Simplifi Tech Talks – Tech Notes Communications Cable for Networking

Simplifi Tech Talks – Tech Notes Communications Cable for Networking

Recently, we have seen an influx of fake or poor quality ethernet communications cable coming into Uganda and East Africa. Ethernet cable is used to connect devices to a network, it's made with solid copper. The other type of networking cable is fiber optic, we are not discussing fiber in this Tech Note

Why is this an issue? Poor quality cable can cause lack of performance such as dropped packets which will cause your network to slow. If you are using POE (Power over Ethernet) to power devices this can cause issues such as power going out unexpectedly. The IEEE 802.3 standard for copper ethernet cabling is 100 meters for data and POE, when using solid copper cable.

So what is happening? Typical Cat5 or Cat6 cable is made from 100% copper cable. This provides the least resistance for both data and POE and meets the IEEE standards. Copper prices have been a bit expensive the last few years so what people do is use steel or aluminum cable with a small coating of copper on the outside.

Why is this bad? Steel and Aluminum have higher resistance to the data and power, meaning the data can not travel as far as copper. This can cause dropped packets and lower the power for POE. Why are people doing this? Mostly for cost, Copper Clad Aluminum (CCA) or Steel (CCS) costs much less than solid copper cable. For example, you can get a roll of CCA or CCS for around $60usd where solid copper cable will be about $120usd for 305 meters. Note – all copper cable draws a 25% duty by URA at import, including CCA and CCS.

● CCA/CCS is prone to rust and can and will cause failures in termination points over time

● In many cases CCA or CCS will fail POE so powering devices is an issue, we will see devices go on and off

● CCA and CCS are not as strong and cable breakage is common

How can you tell if you have CCA or CCS? Using a knife, scrape a little of the copper off. Real copper cable will be copper under the scraping, CCA or CCS you will see the aluminum or steel. With CCS you can use a magnet, if the cable is attracted to the magnet, it is not copper, but steel. We are also seeing an increase of fake branded cable in the market, such as Dlink and Siemens. People think they are getting a good product, come to find that the cable is substandard and not made by these companies.

Simplifi Networks is a leading supplier of networking and communications equipment in East and Central Africa, including brands like Ubiquiti, Mikrotik, Ruijie, and Sopto Fiber. Simplifi also produces its own brand of copper cable that meets the highest standards and is solid copper.