Considering we are seeing an increase of cases of using cables sold as "Cat5e" which in some cases it is not made of pure copper, we as Dine.Direct Tech team created this brief article about what is wrong with cheap cat5e cables.
This is Copper Clad Aluminium or CCA. Essentially aluminum, a cheaper metal, plated with copper
The problem with these cables installed is networks will never comply with the Cat5e standards. This is due to the different electrical properties of aluminum over copper.
These cables often have markings like Cat5e ANSI/TIA-568-C, ISO/IEC 11801, or BS EN 50173 fooling the buyer into thinking they are compliant.
CCA Cat5e Cable Markings
The standard clearly states “the conductor shall be annealed solid copper and comply with the requirements of EN 50288-1:2003, 4.1.
The conductor shall be plain or metal-coated.
NOTE Copper covered (clad) aluminum and/or steel conductors are not permitted.”
Put simply CCA over pure copper Cat5 is:
- 40% Higher resistance
- Poor flexibility and can break easily
- Easily oxidizes causing poor terminations in the patch panel and module
- Not suitable for Power over Ethernet (PoE) due to the resistance
- Prone to breaking as aluminum is much less mailable than copper. This makes it harder to terminate and more likely snap conductors if you need to relocate the cables.
There are some applications where CCA can be used, such as analog CCTV over cat5 twisted pair but this will still exhibit poorer performance and transmission distances will be reduced:
- Always check the markings on the cable jacket anything marked CCA or equivalent.
- Check the conductor core by scoring with a knife.
- Always buy known brands from reputable suppliers.
The Fibre Optic Association has published a full white paper on the issue.
See it bellow