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Copper thieves battled with new anti-theft telecoms cable

Drastically cuts amount of valuable copper in cable

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The epidemic of telecom cable thefts has prompted a US company to develop a new design that drastically cuts down the copper content in a bid to deter metal thieves.

The GroundSmart Copper Clad Steel cable is probably the most radical solution yet devised to copper theft in that it removes almost all of the copper grounding (in the UK ‘earthing’) metal of the sort commonly used in networks to return current to earth for safety reasons.

Unlike conventional cables made from solid copper, the GroundSmart consists of a steel core around which is bonded a copper outer casing, forming an equally effective but far less valuable cable.

The end result, according to the company, is something that exploits the corrosion-resistance of copper with the conductive properties of steel.

“Companies trying to protect their copper infrastructure have been going to extreme measures to deter theft, many of which are neither successful nor cost effective,” said CommScope vice president, Doug Wells.

“Despite efforts like these, thieves continue to steal copper because of its rising value. The result is costly damage to networks and growing service disruptions.”

Alternatives included cable etching to aid tracing of stolen metal and using chemicals that left stains detectable under ultra-violet light, he said. To alert thieves that the cable was not solid copper, the GroundSmart cable could be printed to indicate its composition.

If the GroundSmart gains some traction it might come in the nick of time. After years of price stability, copper prices started to soar in 2004 as demand ramped; the metal is now worth three to four times as much as it was then.

CommScope claims that copper theft in costs US companies $60 million a year.

In the UK, signs that high prices were causing telecoms companies theft issues started with a break-in that brought down a BT exchange in 2008, which came only months after another suspicious “equipment theft” from a Cable & Wireless exchange that disrupted the Financial Times.

The company has released a video explaining the technology on its website. Direct price comparisons between copper and CommScope’s hybrid cables have not yet been made available.



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Comments

Gareth Connors said: Nick ol mate capital punishment does jack to prevent murder in the US If you beleive that capital punishment for any or all crimes would have one iota of effect on the gene pool then you are seriously out of touchCapital punishment only has a local effect upon economics no need to keep crims in gaol for years a feel good effect for politicians so inclined which intensifies proportional to public supportAnd to some extent a local deterent affect By local I mean country or georeligiopolitical area I am sure you understandCapital punishment needs to be reserved for those who pose a direct threat to people for reasons of criminalideological religious or other persuasion as a means of circumventing the spread of their twisted beleifs and then only as the extreme end of a continuum of sanctionsEven this has dangers in the hands of regimes that can interperate anything they wish as criminal etc and apply sanctions accordinglyIf you realy care join Britain First They will surely set things straight

Donald said: Hmmm New type of cable - copper clad steel The US company should check out New Zealand Telecom They have had copper clad steel cables since at least 1972 when I bought some to use as a Radio Ham antenna - I still have some - hellish strong and solders nicely too grin

Nick said: Make it a Death Penalty and the thefts will stop Itll also have the added advantage of clearing some of the crud from the gene pool



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