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Certified Cable Tests: Why Are They Important?

Dec. 28, 2020
Cable testing plays a paramount role during the installation of new cables and the troubleshooting of existing ones.

Cable testing plays a paramount role during the installation of new cables and the troubleshooting of existing ones. Cable testers are essential diagnostic tools that check a system’s reliability and performance by identifying and analyzing faults and cable network glitches. With cable testing, you can predict the drift in different parameters that cause the network accuracy and efficiency to decline. The identified parameters are recorded and compared with standard values and specifications.

Cable test results indicate cables’ and devices’ compliance with ever-evolving standards and regulations, and they provide assurance that the cabling links can transmit data efficiently for smooth, high-quality data communication in Datacom applications. Some of the commonly performed cable tests for datacom cabling are length, wiremap, attenuation, NEXT, DC loop resistance and return loss tests.

Periodic testing of cables is extremely beneficial in the long run to avoid unnecessarily long downtimes, excessive repair costs and regulatory fines. Various test and measurement equipment validates the performance of all electrical or electronic devices. Cable testing also ensures that your network infrastructure remains "future-proof".

What are The Types of Cable Testing?

Depending on the applications and industries, cable testing can be classified into three broad types: cable certification, cable qualification and cable verification. Each of these tests offers unique testing solutions for specific tasks and industrial processes.

1. Cable Certification Testing

  • All cabling links are required to meet certain regulatory standards and requirements. Certification tests check whether the cable under test is compliant with a category [Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) standard] or class [International Organization for Standards and the International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC) standard].
  • Certification testers provide “Pass” or “Fail” information for a cable network infrastructure in accordance with the industry standards.
  • A certification test usually inspects for issues and faults such as long cable runs, excessive cable tension, cable kinks or damage, malfunctioning cables, improper connector installation, improper termination and crossed wires.

2. Cable Qualification Testing

  • Qualification testing is meant for applications involving inspection, analysis and troubleshooting of existing cabling networks.
  • This test checks if the cables can support the requirements for certain network speeds and technologies such as “Fast Ethernet” (100BASE-TX), Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or Gigabit Ethernet. 

3.       Cable Verification Testing

  • Verification tests verify that the cables are connected correctly and properly to the termination points.
  • This test can also detect defects across the cable length such as “split pairs,” determine the distance to fault, and help with troubleshooting twisted pair cabling.
  • Cable verification tests are essential for assessing network continuity.

How Is Cable Certification Performed?

Cable certification is a vital step in ensuring a reliable network infrastructure. It lays the foundation for efficiency, enhanced productivity, and bandwidth and compatibility for expansions.

The certification process for cabling links in new or existing installations is the same. It is carried out by trained technicians who use special test equipment like scanners or cable certification testers. These testers are designed primarily for performing certification in applications such as Datacom and LAN network infrastructure.

The entire cabling infrastructure–from cables to connectors and patch panels–is painstakingly tested, rated and certified. Convenient handheld testers efficiently and accurately rate and certify cabling links and network infrastructures for Cat 5e, 6, 6A or Class F. Certification tests generate a detailed “pass” or “fail” report in the desired formats (hard or soft copies) with recommendations or suggestions (optional) to help manage the network infrastructure through its lifecycle.

Why Does Cable Certification Matter and Why Do You Need It?

What makes cable certification so important? Well, cable certification helps you assess your cable network’s performance, efficiency, reliability and connected devices. But that’s not all.

  • Certification testing aids preventive maintenance: If the cable system doesn’t “pass” a certification test, the issue or faults can be identified, inspected, analyzed and corrected. 
  • Cable certification saves expenses in the long run: It is less expensive than performing live testing on active networks suffering outages. The latter calls for long downtimes and high repair and maintenance costs. The longer the downtime, the greater the loss of revenue, time and customer satisfaction. According to Gartner, one hour of cable network downtime costs $300,000 per hour on an average. On the other hand, copper cable certification testing helps prevent network outages and downtimes, making it time- and cost-efficient.
  • Certification testing can improve the shelf life of devices and networks: Network components are sometimes replaced periodically without testing, even if they can work well. A certified cable test can detect an existing network system's capacity to support high-speed traffic. It can help prevent unnecessary cabling equipment changes - ensuring product longevity and saved replacement costs.
  • Certified cable testing is a direct indicator of productivity and performance: Cable certifications can help identify and troubleshoot slow networks. Based on the testing and certification results, the network cabling can be upgraded to achieve the desired level of speed, efficiency and productivity.
  • Certification testing also ensures that cables meet all the necessary industry standards: This is important for industries and businesses to avoid regulatory penalties and fines.


Certified cable tests identify and analyze inferior cable networks and verify their compliance with industry standards such as Cat5 or Cat6. Certification testing is indispensable in Datacom-, Ethernet- and LAN network-related applications. It can avoid long downtimes and hidden costs in repair, maintenance and replacement of cabling links and components. Generally, handheld cable certification testers check a network's performance, easily detect any faults and issues, and help prevent any risks and safety hazards to both human lives and the business.

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About the Author

Amanda Wilson

Amanda Wilson is an established freelance writer who has built her career focusing on the electrical and electronic test equipment and measurement industry.