What is the impact of poor data cable quality?

In a world reliant so heavily on data, poor quality and non-compliant data cables can have a catastrophic impact on the end user. It is crucial that structured cabling systems can accommodate data demand both now and, in the future.

“Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new or modify existing business processes, culture and customer experiences to meet changing business and market requirements”


The use of data cables within industrial environments is increasing. However, these cables will experience harsh environments unlike those found in an office. For this reason, high quality certified cables are essential to minimise product failures.

Data cables – when quality matters

It is becoming increasingly visible that the world is ever more reliant on digital technology. In fact, the world is in the midst of what is referred to as a “Digital Transformation”.

“Today more than 5 billion consumers interact with data every day- by 2025, this will increase to 6 billion- 75% of the world population. In 2025, each connected person will have at least 1 data transaction every 18 seconds. Many of these transactions are because of the billions of IoT devices connected across the globe which are expected to create over 90zB of data in 2025” – IDC report

There is great emphasis on reliable data transmission, both in respect to volume and also transfer rates. In short, consumers are demanding high levels of data, and more than ever this data is required in real time. Whether in business or leisure, there is a forever increasing number of data transactions, both with human interface and with the increasing scope of the Internet of Things. Furthermore, with the expansion of the Industrial Internet of Things, these transactions will inevitability increase further.


More and more cities are relying on data. Not only for end users to stay connected but for computer systems to communicate with one another remotely without the need for human interface.

The data centres are the heart of a business, without them everything stops, and if they encounter problems or downtime the business and its users experience the impacts as well. Businesses may not always consider the level of cable management that is required to transmit data around a building.

As networking solutions increase and the need for data centres increases, incorrect cable management techniques can have disastrous effects on both the running of the network but also encounter the financial impact on the business.

Increasing demand means that both facilities also have to ensure users have high availability, whilst minimising cost and maximise efficiency. Poor cabling has a direct impact on this requirement contributing to its operational cost. Cabling products that may be proven to be inefficient, if non-approved to begin with, can result in more power being used and thus more heat being produced. This is turn increases the energy demand of the network and business further and if the infrastructure is running less efficiently than it should the lifespan of the cable may also be affected.

Many data centres are faced with serious cooling inefficiencies due to poor cabling. Overloaded cabling can result in a lack of ‘’airflow’’, meaning that the cabling network runs hotter. Containments also pose a risk, whereby they stop cooling fans from working properly and therefore running for longer periods of time to overcompensate.

Many companies are faced with having to remove and replace large sections of cabling, especially in scenarios where locating sections of damaged cable if difficult to do. This can cost the company a lot of money and downtime. Using independently certified or approved cables, which have been tested to ensure they will operate as intended, offers data centre owners evidence of a higher level of quality. Verified cables and components can work to reduce potential failure and demonstrate expected performance levels.

Planned maintenance downtime is inevitable in every business; due to ongoing installation, upgrades, and maintenance time but using high-quality structured cabling which can accommodate future data demand reduces the planned downtime needed, reducing the number of upgrades and maintenance required.

Indicators of performance quality

Data network infrastructure quality should be carefully considered to assess whether or not it will be able to operate efficiently, both now and as technologies advance in the future. Data networks have been evolving since 1985. This is when the first voice-grade copper cabling was used to transmit data, by means of a simple unshielded twisted pair cable, which managed to transfer data at a rate of 1Mbps.

Of course, in 2020, the transmission requirements have significantly evolved, and now copper structured cabling specifications have progressed further. Increases in data demand has meant a far greater emphasis on cable design to reduce or eliminate the undesirable effects of electromagnetic interference (EMI). Pair geometry, choice of dielectric and shielding are all design considerations when manufacturers are looking to negate the impact

The progression of established standards IEC, ANSI/TIA, and EN, which specify the requirements of structured cabling systems have imposed higher requirements, with respect to the measurement of data integrity and immunity to EMI. Test parameters have become more onerous. The key performance indicators for a data cable are attenuation and crosstalk, therefore in-depth tests have been developed to measure both. The tests determine the interference experienced, which in turn impacts the ability of the cable to transmit data without errors.

To enable verification of cable, it is advisable to ensure that structured cabling is purchased from a manufacturer who is certified by third party approval company. Approved cable benefits the end user and installer alike, in that the likelihood of infrastructure failure down the line is significantly reduced.

Approved cable products are assessed to ensure that they are produced using only high-quality components, and process or factory controls are also audited as part of any certification to ensure standard compliance is maintained. During the certification process cables are measured against various performance parameters, which reflect those the cable will experience during operation, considering environmental challenges it may encounter during installation and its life span. For example, thermal aging and chemical resistance exposure are targeted tests used to qualify performance. These tests act to give both the installer and end user peace of mind that the cable being used can accommodate high demands for data, whilst withstanding external influencers that would otherwise compromise the performance and, potentially the integrity of data for end users.

blue-bundled-cable.jpgData cables tend to be installed in bundles due to the transmission volumes needed, especially in large tower blocks. This influences design considerations, such as the use of a high-quality shield to minimise crosstalk and interference between cables

The adoption of data cables in almost all industries has meant that transmission testing alone may not indicate the cable's overall performance. For this reason, ANSI/TIA standards have developed a mechanical, ingress, chemical, and electromagnetic (MICE) classification to determine the harshness of the cable’s surroundings.

Helping you safeguard networks

Any manufacturer going through the approval process is assessed on the basis of many contributing factors, including its quality management systems, how they validate the design, how they purchase materials, how they deal with non-conforming product, down to how they train their teams, all of which contributes to the functioning of an effective cable manufacturing business. Additionally, there is a comprehensive audit where the key processes involved directly in the manufacture of structured cabling are assessed. Each method or system is reviewed in depth to ensure repeatability and high-quality output. In doing so this minimises the risk of product failures throughout every stage of the manufacturing process.

Samples from each cable design are forensically examined to ensure that all relevant specification parameters are satisfied. The outcome of all of the above is to install confidence for both the manufacturer, installer and end user that the structured cabling system is suitable for its intended purpose. Cables form the building blocks of any IT infrastructure therefore high-quality product, proven to meet the required output performance levels is critical. Using a certified manufacturer takes the way any guesswork and enables you to be sure of product quality.

It is critically important to ensure that the structured cabling installed within your infrastructure is tested and verified to meet all of the complex data transmission parameters, often demanded by todays telecommunications industry. In today’s data driven world any instance of system outages, data corruption or simple loss of time can cause businesses across the world a myriad of issues and problems.

To conclude, data communication testing and certification helps you to ensure the level of quality, in line with the industry standards, or above this minimum can be successfully delivered to your end user. One, which a non-approved cable cannot guarantee. The responsibility for maintained levels of quality falls on every touch point of the supply chain, this start right at the beginning of the telecommunications data network specification process, where independently approved cable should be outlined as a requirement. As the purchase power moves from this decision, project owners and procurement teams should also check for verified certification. Finally, care should also be taken at both the installation and once functioning in operation, so as to ensure unnecessary damage to the cable is not encountered.

Third party certification offers continuous peace of mind, delivered through a rigorous auditing and product sampling schedule to ensure cables consistently meet the required standards. Data cable certification is essential to making sure structured cabling systems are reliable and efficient accommodating the forever increasing data demand.

Access more information on third party data cable approval by downloading the data cables testing and certification guide or contact the BASEC team today.

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