The Communications Cable and Connectivity Association (CCCA) announced the launch of its free Cable Check mobile app, for use as a field-screening tool and checklist to help technicians identify and avoid non-compliant and counterfeit communications cable. Developed in cooperation with UL, the free app can be used by installers, inspectors and end-users of UTP communications cable as a convenient field-screening tool to check suspicious cable and to validate UL listings for fire safety compliance with the National Electrical Code (NEC).
CCCA has been very active in alerting the industry to the problem of imported non-compliant cables from lesser-known brands. These cables present serious liability risks and public safety concerns. “Non-compliant communications cable has become a major issue in the U.S.,” comments Bill Kloss, CCCA's Chairman and OFS's vice president of sales for the Americas. "Developing the Cable Check app is an investment in CCCA’s commitment to continue to educate and help protect the structured cabling industry from non-compliant and counterfeit cable products.”
Communications cable must meet NEC requirements for fire safety and be listed by a third party testing agency, such as UL, which tests and lists cables for compliance to applicable safety codes. UL recently issued public warnings about the unauthorized use of its mark on various cable products. Unauthorized use of marks and labels from other testing agencies is yet to be determined. Since non-compliant cables also affect other testing agencies, CCCA is encouraging them to tighten their quality assurance procedures and improve tracking systems to aid field checks for fire safety compliance and authorized listings.
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CCCA continues to recommend that the best practice is to buy proven quality, name-brand cables and patch cords. CCCA also takes the position that that the serious problem of non-compliant and counterfeit cables from many imported, lesser known brands will not go away unless quality assurance procedures, and tools such as the new free mobile app, screen compliance and validate listing of finished cable procured directly from the marketplace.
“Our goal is to support the structured cabling industry by providing important information and useful tools,” says Frank Peri, CCCA's executive director. “We are delighted to make the Cable Check app available at no cost, for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch users, as a handy way to help identify and avoid suspicious cable. We commend UL for working with CCCA on this app and for leading the industry by putting in place new UL quality assurance procedures in response to this problem. For UL listed cable, we hope this app will be widely used to help reduce the potential liabilities we have cautioned about, and improve public safety."
The Cable Check app shows the top five things to look for in checking the fire safety compliance of UTP communications cables used in the technology infrastructure of commercial buildings. The following are the top five checklist items included in the app:
1. A photo of the UL holographic label to compare and confirm that the holographic label on all boxes or reels of cable is a genuine UL label.
2. How to check for the UL mark and cable type on the cable jacket. The app shows examples of authorized UL marks for comparison.
3. The app provides ready access to the UL online certifications directory to determine if the manufacturer has a UL listing. The App provides an immediate response when the UL file number (the E number) is entered.
4. The authorized UL marks and correct terminology that should appear in cable specifications (cut sheets).
5. The app indicates the appropriate box weight for cables. Substantially less weight may indicate non-compliant copper clad aluminum (CCA) conductors were used in place of solid copper.
The app is available only for UL-listed communications cable and may be downloaded directly from iTunes, here.