How to know if your Cat5e, Cat6 or Cat6a Ethernet cable is counterfeit?

Photo credit: L-com Global Connectivity 

There is a worrying trend in the cable industry that is impairing the final consumer: counterfeit cables.

Companies are doing this shady deal by selling under brand cables labeled as genuine products, but without the quality controls and even without the appropriate metal inside them. It is a $500 billion problem worldwide.

Why do they do this?

Short version? To save money. But the long part is what surprise you:

We are talking about thousands of dollars. Impairing the consumer, who ends up installing slow networks that don’t hold their specifications for voice, video and data passing.

Corporations and homeowners are also susceptible to risks because sometimes these cables don’t comply with adequate fire and current rates. 

Fake cables manufacturers make low-quality products, label them with the name of a legitimate company, pack them in a box and sell them at a fraction of the real prizes, making it impossible for legit manufacturers to compete them.

So, when you see a CATx cable or patch cord with a significantly low cost, don’t trust it.


And counterfeit cables don't always come from overseas, some American big and small manufacturers are also making fake cables.


it doesn’t matter where the product comes from but how it is being manufactured and the quality of its components.

So, what are some cables companies doing in order to save costs?

Using steel or aluminum instead of copper

Copper-clad-steel or copper-clad-aluminum is a classic method manufacturer use in order to save money.

It consists of using an aluminum or steel core instead of costly copper, which causes high attenuation and poorly signal. In the long run, network speed will be affected.

Using re-ground plastic

RJ-45 connectors that don't pass the quality test at the factory and turn out as rejected can be re-ground back to pellets and added to the plastic used to make new connectors.

This process is legitimate, but it can have bad consequences when too much re-ground plastic is used because it lowers combustion rating. If the connector body has yellowing or foggy plastic, it means that low-quality plastic was used in its making.

Another thing manufacturers have been doing with connectors is to replace the nickel and gold parts on the metal contact with “gold flash” or “selective plating”, materials that corrode quickly.

Substituting jacket material

Manufacturers replace CMP and CMR flammability rating with inferior non-fireproof jacket material. And yes, not every application requires these standards, but when they are needed it is critical for cables to have them.

So, if you want to avoid buying non-legitimate cables, you have to make sure to:

  • Buy cables from a legitimate manufacturer.
  • Always compare them to good products you have bought before.
  • Analyze the jacket’s quality and labeling.
  • Carefully observe the box the cables came in.
  • Ask where the cable is coming from.

Installing counterfeit cables is a risk that eventually will have an expensive cost and it could be considered negligence, fraud and criminal violation of building code regulations. In some cases, the contractor could even face imprisonment.

Furthermore, fake cables don’t meet with industry’s standards, which sooner or later will cause poor network performance and could even damage active equipment, because they claim to be 24 AWG but are 25 AWG or even 25 AWG instead.

What is AWG? found out here

If you want to keep reading about this subject, the CCCA (Communications Cable & Connectivity Association) has a great white paper in which they deeply developed the subject.

Beyondtech provides pure bare copper and genuine Ethernet Cat5e, Cat6 and Cat6a patch cables, properly tested and guaranteed for a reliable performance.  

March 30, 2016 by
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