Over the last year, several events have occurred which have drastically raised the cost of low voltage cable.  Due to these events, there have been unscrupulous manufacturers and distributors of cable that have tried to take short cuts in order to keep their costs down.


The tsunami and earthquakes that hit Japan in early 2011 significantly slowed down the production of plenum rated cable, which is used in most commercial applications.  A chemical called FEP is what is used in the manufacturing process, and a company located in Japan called Daikin produces half of the world’s supply.  They stopped production in March of 2011, causing a several month backlog.


The demand for copper as a raw material is up worldwide, with larger percentages of what is produced going to India and China.  With more devices being added to data networks (IP cameras, wireless access points, VOIP telephones, access controls, security systems), the size and capacity of the data networks that support these devices will continue to grow.

Two cable manufacturers have been named in multimillion dollar lawsuits which allege that they falsely labeled non plenum rated or modified cable as authentic.  Up to 85% of the cable they supplied is alleged to fail corrosion tests and have performance issues due to the use of copper clad aluminum (CCA) rather than 100% copper.

In July of 2010, Underwriters Laboratories, which provides the UL listing we as consumers see daily, issued a warning regarding communications cable which was not authorized to carry or reference the UL label.


You have probably heard the phrase, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  With the price of communications cable skyrocketing, expect to pay more than you have in the past for structured cabling projects.  A contractor promising to deliver cable at below market prices may not be providing authentic, performance tested cable.  This could cause performance issues over your network, and liability issues where cable is installed in your workplace.  The same process applies to patch cords, which have also recently come under fire for inferior manufacturing processes which result in performance failures.  Be sure to have an open dialog with your cabling contractor, and ask to see the holographic seal provided by UL, assuring the authenticity of communications cable.