6 reasons why network cabling is a commodity, or not?

Cabling is the lifeline for all network infrastructure. It is a must for data to travel from point A to point B; however, not all cabling is the same. In fact, some believe it is just a commodity. In this blog, James Donovan explains whether network cabling is in fact a commodity.

2018_Network_Cabling_360x203Lately, I hear people refer to the fact that cabling is becoming commoditized. Often, this is a negative thing. Well, I think it clearly relies on your definition of a commodity.

Below are the six definitions of ‘commodity’ I found on the internet:

  1. Something useful that can be turned to commercial or other advantage.
  2. A generic, largely unprocessed, product that can be processed and resold.
  3. That which affords convenience, advantage, or profit, especially in commerce, including everything movable that is bought and sold (except animals), -- goods, wares, merchandise, produce of land and manufactures, etc.
  4. A commodity is an undifferentiated item traded within highly liquid markets.
  5. A commodity is a homogeneous product with little or no product differentiation, and there are no brand names associated with it.
  6. A commodity is largely uniform and interchangeable regardless of where they were produced.

CLICK TO TWEET: Treating network cabling as a commodity is a danger to any business that relies on its network. Read James Donovan's blog.

By considering each of the above definitions in relation to cabling solutions, we hopefully can make a judgement on whether the term is applicable to all cabling solutions. So, here are six things you need to consider:

  1. Cabling solutions are useful items that can be turned to commercial or other advantage. Cabling infrastructure solutions enable customers and carriers to leverage network investment and reduce operational costs with a reliable infrastructure. Using this definition, it could be said that cabling have the attributes of a commodity.
  2. Communications cabling is not a largely unprocessed product that can be processed and resold. High-quality cabling solutions integrate a lot of different materials, with worldwide provision and manufacturing, backed by research and development knowledge. The cables and connectors are designed to work in harmony with one another to achieve consistent total system performance. There is a considerable amount of manufacturing process to take the raw materials and turn them into high performance cabling products. Under this definition, cabling is not a commodity product.
  3. Cabling is a product that affords convenience, advantage or profit, especially in commerce. As the transport system for all the different types of networks, cabling solutions are a critical part of any network; however, it is a product that is most often hidden from view and therefore not treated as other products and services. Although a large percentage of a network’s budget is spent on hardware and software; no business or its network can operate without a cabling infrastructure. Installing a high-quality connectivity solution is an investment in the foundation of the network, minimizing network failures because of infrastructure. Under this definition, cabling could be said to be a commodity product.
  4. Cabling solutions are differentiated items designed and installed by trained and certified companies within high profile markets. Solutions are designed with high performance in all the vital parameters for data transmission. But delivering total solutions to customers requires more than just product. The design and installation is a critical part of delivering effective customer solutions. Having trained professionals who have proven their knowledge in cabling technology through certification training is a dependable measure of competency that can be relied on. Under this definition, cabling is not a commodity product.
  5. Cabling solutions are not all homogeneous products with little or no product differentiation and there are many brand names associated within this market. There are many examples of cabling brands designed to be high performance, high-quality solutions incorporating advanced, patented technology. Under this definition, cabling is not a commodity product.
  6. Cabling products are not largely uniform and interchangeable, regardless of where they were produced. End-to-end performance is the result of a complex chain of events, and performance is only as good as the weakest link in the chain. The primary components that contribute to this are the cords, connecting hardware and cable. The type and nature of the components used in a system can affect the composite performance of the total system. Performance can also be affected by the installation practice. Standards provide you a minimum and CommScope is proud to be involved in many standards committees; however, we also make a big deal about going beyond the standards and offer customers a warranty. This does not get away from the fact that getting to those levels of performance is not trivial. Under this definition, cabling is not a commodity product.

Although this is only a snapshot and I may be a little biased, it is a 4-to-2 win in favor of the NO camp. I remain convinced that treating network cabling as a commodity is a danger to any business that relies on its network, whether it be wired or wireless.

What do you think?