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Case Study: NY Contractor’s Encounter with Counterfeit Cable

Mar 19, 2015

Washington, DC March 19, 2015 

The widespread proliferation of counterfeit and non-compliant cable in the information and communications technologies (ICT) industry is illustrated in CCCA’s latest case study of a New York City contractor’s encounter. The Communications Cable and Connectivity Association (CCCA) is a non-profit group of leading cabling manufacturers, distributors and material suppliers, whose anti-counterfeiting efforts include close collaboration with independent testing agencies, U.S. Customs and law enforcement. In this second case study on the subject, CCCA highlights the counterfeit problem, which is growing due to lack of awareness and the lure of lower prices, in order to inform and warn unsuspecting purchasers.

 The Anti-Counterfeit section of the CCCA website includes definitions of the three most common tactics used by counterfeiters and in the situation outlined in this case two out of those three tactics were used. First, the cable legend included an unauthorized counterfeit certification mark from a recognized testing agency, plus the cable was a type that is non-compliant for use as communications cable.

 When Mark Rewers, vice president of operations for BN Systems, Inc., a New York-based contractor, was informed by his customer that they had purchased some low cost twisted-pair category cable they intended to provide for the project, he wasn’t immediately suspicious, as he assumed they had purchased the cable from an industry distributor. That soon changed when it came time to install the cable.

 “Our crews showed up to do the prep work and realized that the cable the customer was supplying was not the well-known brand that had been specified for installation and warranty,” said Rewers. “We examined the box and had never heard of the brand before. We couldn’t find any specifications or verification of the UL number. After a little more research, we realized that the cable was constructed with copper clad aluminum conductors, which is actually banned in New York City for use as communications cable. ”

Rewers informed his customer that the cable they had purchased did not meet code and that they would not receive a warranty. At first the customer was not swayed, convinced that the apparently authentic UL mark meant that the cable was listed.

“Our cable rep found several articles about copper clad aluminum cable from the CCCA, and another online article from a different source indicating that the brand in question was under investigation for UL fraud,” said Rewers. “We provided the information to the customer, and once it reached higher level executives within the company, the customer decided not to use the cable they had purchased.”

“They bought the non-compliant cable, couldn’t use it and couldn’t sell it. They ultimately lost $30,000. Thankfully, we ended up installing the originally-specified cable from a reputable manufacturer—everything turned out well and the warranty is in place,” said Rewers. “My word of warning to others is to not accept any substitutes unless you are 100 percent sure it is UL listed. And I personally will no longer let my customers buy their own cable.”

More information on the counterfeit issue can be seen on the CCCA website at www.cccassoc.org. If you have had an experience with counterfeit or non-compliant cable, you can report it to CCCA through the Contact Us web page. These real-world stories are helpful for others in illustrating how important due diligence is when purchasing.

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About CCCA

The Communications Cable & Connectivity Association (CCCA) is a non-profit association comprised of leading manufacturers, distributors and material suppliers. CCCA is a resource on timely topics affecting the structured cabling industry – to help ensure the safety, quality and performance of communications cable and connectivity products. Draw upon CCCA as a source for science-based information, from the dangers of non-compliant and/or counterfeit products, to the most effective use of structured cabling in the data center, to collaborations on best practices for the design of sustainable cabling infrastructure projects.

CCCA member companies are Accu-Tech; AlphaGary; Anixter; Belden; Berk-Tek, a Nexans Company; Cable Components Group; comCables; CommScope; Daikin America; DuPont; General Cable; Graybar; Hitachi Cable; Leviton; Optical Cable Corporation (OCC); OFS, a Furukawa Company; Panduit; PolyOne; Prysmian; Sentinel Connector Systems; Solvay Specialty Polymers; Superior Essex; TE Connectivity; Teknor Apex; The Siemon Company; 3M.

Headquarters: 1001 Pennsylvania NW, Washington, DC, 20004. For further information, visit the CCCA website www.cccassoc.org or contact David B. Kiddoo, Executive Director, at dkiddoo@cccassoc.org or by phone at 1 410.667.0723.