Patch Cords are Highly Suspect say Siemon

Four years after widespread publicity about the poor quality of non-system patch cords in the market, recent tests have shown that an astounding 83 per cent of Category 6 and 70 per cent of Category 5e patch cords do not meet the TIA/EIA-568-B.2-1 standard.

“Use of sub-standard patch cords in any network, either within the comms room, the data centre or at the user’s PC, will inevitably lead to network degradation and slow-down,” said Jonathan Lewis, Product Specialist at Siemon.

The tests were independently performed on 149 new patch cords by network test equipment manufacturer Fluke, following a ‘mystery shopper’ operation at 34 distributors, assembly houses, retail outlets and mail-order catalogues. They were tested using the Fluke patch cord certification tool.

“The fact that this situation is still as bad as it was four years ago – and the fact that packet loss and network slow-down are the inevitable result of using sub-standard patch cords – should be a real wake-up call to network managers and IT managers everywhere,” said Lewis.

Lewis went on to warn that sometimes corners are cut by installing a leading brand for the permanent link (horizontal cables, patch panels and outlets) together with standards-compliant test certificates, but then the overall (channel) performance of the network is ruined with cheap, untested patch cords from local assembly houses or low-quality offshore manufacturers.

“We’ve seen instances in which leading-brand Category 6 permanent links are so degraded by low-quality, non-system ‘Category 6’ cords that the entire system fails to meet even Category 5e performance” said Lewis.

Another common situation is where a complete leading-brand system is installed at day one and then over time the owner adds in sub-standard brands of patch cords – which slow the network down over time as more and more are added. “Quite honestly,” said Lewis “it is total madness to jeopardise the performance of a mission-critical network to save a few £s on the patch cords. After all, these days, the LAN is the lifeline of the entire enterprise.

“Leading brand patch cords, albeit slightly more expensive, offer a much higher degree of performance assurance. Siemon cords, for example, are are constructed from the highest quality connectors and cable under stringent ISO quality conditions in highly-automated Siemon facilities. Each cord is individually tested beyond the applicable performance standard and guaranteed to perform.”

“Why invest in a network, which is at the very heart of the enterprises IT infrastructure, only to risk its failure or slowdown, with an 83 per cent chance of a sub-standard cord? It is important that end users see the importance of quality cords in their network and whilst they are of course a component, any system is only as good as the sum of its parts.”

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