Are The Standards Serving Their Intended Purpose?


There are many advantages to being a blogger. I don’t have to write in full sentences. Or I can get away with a run-on sentence, or misplaced comma. But, now that I have been doing this for a while, I am finding that people rely on me to “ponder” on their thoughts and ideas. “So, Stefanie, now that you are a blogger, do you think we are getting away from the standards?” That was the question posed to me at a trade show last week. At the time, I was thinking about a lot of things, but not about our industry standards and how we are supporting them. But suddenly, I do find myself pondering this topic. We have councils in place, supported by key executives from industry leading companies, to choose best practices that everyone should follow – for what reason? My counterpart suggested that the reason is to make sure that there is cross compatibility – if all the products you utilize in your network meet industry standard, it shouldn’t matter who manufactures them, your system should work. So, as manufacturers begin to create “warrantied” systems – where all the parts need to be manufactured by them and installed by a certified contractor – does it negate the initial purpose of setting these standards? Or how about the proprietary technologies and connectorization techniques being developed by manufactures – does that change your thinking?

My personal thoughts: we need the standards as a benchmark to verify what we are getting will really work. It is necessary to have these in place. On a rainy day, it might be nice to know I could grab any product made by anyone and it would work, but in the end, I am a bit picky, and will always go for the warranty. I like knowing that each component of a system has been rigorously tested to work together – everyone knows just how cranky I can get if my computer stops working for a few moments of time or I can’t get to the internet! I don’t think we have abandoned the purpose at all.

Your thoughts?

5 Responses to Are The Standards Serving Their Intended Purpose?

  1. Kirk said on
    November 28, 2011 at 9:09 am

    The manufacturers must justify their existence, so they put together a “value” package of offering a 25 year or lifetime warranty. The reality? Everything works with everything else as long as the installer does a good job. I am a salesman and I can terminate every insert on the planet. The warranty is marketing fluff. How many times has a network failed because of poor hardware? I am sure some will find the needle in the haystack, but the reality is that in 10 years of networking, I never heard of one.

  2. Kollengode Anand said on
    November 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Kirk is directionally right about warranty. Manufacturers provide warranties (25 years or lifetime) to assure their customers that they are standing behind their product. Hence, this may not be a differentiator in the marketplace.
    However, this should not be confused with the performance of the cabling solution. To meet the challenging performance requirements of today’s networks and associated topologies, manufacturers are working very hard to ensure that their product meets or exceeds the electrical and mechanical performance requirements. For example, in an environment that is using 10 Gb, manufacturers ensure that the cable and connector constructions are optimized to reduce crosstalk (Near-end and Far-end).
    Standards for electrical performance parameters as above are specified at minimum levels to allow manufacturers to meet them easily. This allows a number of manufacturers to participate in the marketplace. From this viewpoint alone, standards are meeting their specified purpose. However, discerning customers do know that performance higher than prescribed standards is very important to ensure the reliability and performance of their network installations.

  3. Paul Kish said on
    November 30, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    The weak link for network performance is often the patch cord. As an example, an industry study identified a high failure rate in electrical performance of imported category 6 copper patch cords, see Also, a white paper by Fluke Networks states that some sources estimate that cabling issues account for 50% of LAN failures, see So there are different points of view about how many times has a network failed because of poor hardware.

  4. Bethany said on
    November 30, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Agreed. It’s not as much about the warranty that the cable and connectivity will continue to work…it’s more about the assurance that the “system” has been tested together for optimal performance. For example, most cable/connectivity partners have joint product development and synchronized test methodologies to make sure you get the most out of their systems.

    I received the following response from Nexans Director of Marketing, Todd Harpel, that better explains –
    “As a manufacturer in the industry we do feel the need to ensure that our customers get the best, most reliable performance out of their cabling system. Part of this involves offering extended warranties. There are several aspects of these warranties that are worth noting. First, there are warranties that guarantee not just that the products are free from manufacturing defects, but also guarantees installed channel performance that is better than the standards. Our NetClear warranty with Berk-Tek cable and Legrand|Ortronics connectors is an example of this. This is made possible both by the fact that we work together to optimize the performance of the system, but also by the fact that we have trained our certified installers to do the installation correctly. Other than the quality of the components, it is the installation practice of the cable and connectors that can, and does, have an effect on the final system performance.

    But full disclosure here… how many warranty claims have we ever had? The answer is very few. But we believe that our warranty has value in the customer’s mind and gives them confidence in the system they are purchasing. As for the warranty duration? I think that 25 years or “lifetime” warranties reflect that confidence that we have in the quality of our products.”

  5. Bob said on
    December 5, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Are we getting away from Standards? Maybe another way to ask the question is “are cabling systems going ‘retro'”? Have you seen the size of the cable OD’s, reminds me of cabling systems of yesteryear. Not to menetion most manufactures force you into buying their “end-to-end” solution or void their warranty. Sounds like the good ole days of propriety cabling systems from some of the biggest names in the industry.

    If a manufacture markets an “end to end” solution that meets EIA/TIA performance specifications, but voids the warranty if the customer uses a ‘third party, standards compliant component (i.e. patch cords), does that system meet the ‘standards’ definition of an ‘open’ system?

    Or, if the client decides to run one cable per work outlet instead of two (as stated in the standard), is that system standards compliant? Or how about an equipment manufacture that requires you to use their equipment cables by embedding a code into it, is that a standards compliant system?

    Seems to me as the need for speed increases, the industry is shifting focus to produce closed systems rather than open systems. Sure, most manufacture’s solutions meet or exceed EIA/TIA performance standards but the real test is whether they’ll work with another competitor’s product and be eligible for the warranty.

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