New Patch Cord Market Surveillance and Testing Underway!
In a previous market surveillance of patch cords, CCCA uncovered that 322 of the 379 cords made by offshore manufacturers failed to meet the performance specifications of ANSI/TIA-568-C.2. In these tests, 78 percent of the failing samples failed by a margin of 3 dB or more, and 45 percent of the failing cords were 6 dB or more worse than 568-C.2 performance specs.

We are currently in the process of conducting another extensive market surveillance program of patch cords. Not only will we be performing the Standard Electrical Performance Tests using industry standard test equipment (Fluke, Softing, etc.), we are expanding the testing process to include many other product attributes that are found in documents such as ANSI/TIA 568-C.2, ANSI/TIA-1096-A, IEC 60603-7, UL 1863 etc. These standards have clearly defined values and testing procedures and are often referenced in product literature and web site descriptions involving Category Type Patch cords. If a claim is made, we want to be able to validate whether the claim is actually being met (or not).

Watch here for the announcement of the results when this program is complete!

Power Up!  IEEE 802.3bt standard and the National Electrical Code® (NEC®)
As the IEEE continues to put the final touches on the IEEE 802.3bt standard for transmitting Power over Ethernet at power levels up to 100 Watts, several other Standards and Code-Making organizations are simultaneously addressing the impact that these higher power levels might have on cabling. The concern is that higher power levels being transmitted over each of the four pairs of communications cable, in densely populated pathways or bundles, may generate excessive heat and increase the temperature of the cables beyond their Listed rating.    
To address the safety aspects of this concern, several amendments for the 2017 NFPA 70, National Electrical Code (NEC), have been proposed. These proposals include the introduction in Article 725.144 of a new Amperage Table that defines the ampacities of each conductor, based upon the cable Temperature Rating and the number of 4-pair cables in a bundle.  Also, an optional new Listing designation "-LP(xxA)" for Class 2 and Class 3 Power Limited cables is introduced, where the "(xxA)" following the suffix -LP indicates the ampacity of each conductor in the cable. This Listing would allow for an independent verification test to determine the maximum power level that the cable is capable of carrying without overheating beyond its Listed temperature rating.  In addition, an amendment was proposed to Article 840.160 requiring  communications cable that also carry power greater than 60W comply with Article 725.144 when these cables are used in place of Class 2 and Class 3 cable.  

It should be noted that there have been several Notices of Intent to Make a Motion (NITMAM), opposing these amendments, to be considered during the June NFPA Conference. These motions, if adopted by the NFPA membership, would remove the addition of the Amperage Table and the optional -LP Listing, OR raise the power level at which the communications cable will need to be -LP Listed to greater than 100W (rather than the 60W proposed).

The CCCA will continue to monitor the 2017 NEC code revision process and inform our readers of any potential impacts it may have on the specification and use of communication cabling systems.

Don't Paint me in a corner!
NITMAM on Painting Over Fiber Optic Cables
Manufacturers and installers of copper communications cabling know that the application of a foreign substance (paint, cleaners, pulling lube, etc.) on an indoor plenum or riser Listed cable is detrimental to its performance and safety characteristics. Cable jackets might absorb these contaminants and potentially alter their transmission and physical properties. The cable's fire safety characteristics might also be compromised. In addition, a foreign substance may obscure the cable legend, making it impossible for the code inspector or Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) to verify that the cable is appropriately Listed for the pathway or space in which it was installed. 

To address this issue related to optical fiber cable, Dave Kiddoo, Executive Director of the CCCA, has submitted a motion to add an Informational Note to the 2017 NFPA 70 NEC Article 770.24 stating, "Paint, plaster, cleaners, abrasives, corrosive residues, or other contaminants may result in an undetermined alteration of optical fiber cable properties." Acceptance of this motion will ensure that this information within the NEC is consistent for all communications cable types (copper and optical fiber).

Watch Out When Buying From Low-Cost Websites
We've given you many tips on what to look for when identifying the legitimacy of the box of cable in front of you. (See our Good Cable - Bad Cable video and checklist below.) How do you know what to look for when you're buying from Amazon, E-Bay or other discount internet sites? 

1. If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is!   

2. Check the Spec Sheet
If you're buying communications cable and the site states that it is made with Copper Clad Aluminum conductors, remember that this is NEVER compliant to Code requirements.  If you install communications cable using Copper Clad Aluminum conductors, you are in violation of the Code!

3. If the brand name of the cable Listed is unfamiliar, verify that this company's cable has been Listed and Verified by a third-party such as UL or ETL, with documentation of specific File Numbers.  Perform your due-diligence to be certain that this company's cable meets the safety and performance standards and have been authorized to use the Listing Agency's Certification Mark!  Even the Certification Mark might be counterfeit!  

4. If the site does not state any third-party Listing Agency for their cable, this cable is in violation of the Code requirements.  Both the cable boxes and the legend on the cable must have legitimate markings of the third-party Listing Agency, such as UL's holographic label!

5. Use the websites of the Listing Agencies to see if any public notices or recalls have been posted for that company name.  But beware: many of the Bad Guys have not yet been caught!

6. Web pages for companies selling low cost, possibly counterfeit or non-compliant communications cabling sometimes use multiple brand names with links redirecting the user to multiple web sites to obtain product information. Quite often these web sites contain grammatical errors, misspelled words, and even inaccurate standards references ("TAA" instead of "TIA").  All of these are indications that the cabling may not be from a reputable manufacturer.

When You've Already Purchased Cable
If you've already purchased some cable or have a customer who wants you to install cable they have purchased, you want to be sure it's compliant before installing it. Here are some things to determine if it's Good Cable or Bad Cable. Click to view this handy checklist and video for some guidance: 

CCCA's Free CableCheck App is a convenient field screening tool to check suspicious cable. It's available for download from Google Play and the App Store. Check the video about it  .

App Store
Google Play
Coming soon....Category 8
When the Category 8 Standard becomes reality and incorporated into the "568 Family" within ANSI/TIA-568.2-D, you can count on CCCA to provide what you need to know about its impact on Structured Cabling Systems, Data Centers and PoE Applications.

Note that ANSI/TIA-568.2-D ("568 Family") will also incorporate updated references and links to other TIA TR-42 standards that have been revised in the past 5 years. This will include changes and updates to ANSI/TIA-568.0-D (Generic Telecommunications Cabling for Customer Premises), ANSI/TIA-568.1-D (Commercial Building Telecommunications Infrastructure Standard), and ANSI/TIA-568.3-D (Optical Fiber Cabling and Components Standard).

In the meantime, read these recent Cat 8 articles from Cabling Installation & Maintenance.

Category 8 standard is one step away from publication 

Winner of the  Winter 2016 CableCheck Game

Congratulations to:

Sue Lemay, RCDD
Senior Project Manager
Comnet Communications
Danbury, CT

Winner of the GoPro camera 
in a random drawing from all those who played the CableCheck game online and in person at BICSI in Orlando.

Thanks to all who participated.