Copper theft deterrent solution reduces maintenance costs

CommScope now offers copper-alternative grounding wire to telecommunications industry.

Hickory, N.C.—The ongoing volatility of copper pricing has created a major concern for the telecommunications industry, in which telecoms operators traditionally use copper ground wire for network grounding and bonding. Rising copper prices negatively impact operating costs by increasing the price of wire and maintenance costs, as copper wire becomes an attractive target for thieves intent on stealing it for sale to recyclers.

To help the industry battle these issues, CommScope Inc. has developed a copper-alternative grounding wire designed to deter copper theft and lower maintenance costs for telecoms and data applications.

The GroundSmart Copper Clad Steel solution has been designed for use in subsurface grounding grids, as well as inside and outside plant bonding applications. As a global leader in infrastructure solutions for communication networks, CommScope has been manufacturing copper-alternative solutions for various industries for nearly 30 years. As copper theft continues to grow as a global problem and copper raw material costs increase, the use of Copper Clad Steel alternatives have gained acceptance in more and more applications.

“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 Doug Wells, vice president, Outside Plant Solutions, Broadband, CommScope. “Companies have increased security around their plants, going as far as laser etching their cables so they can be traced when they are stolen. Others have coated cables with a special liquid that leaves a stain detectable under ultraviolet light. 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.”

Copper theft has become such an issue that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning stating that copper theft is a threat to critical homeland infrastructure. Also, in a 2009 survey published by the Electrical Safety Foundation International, utilities in the United States reported approximately $60 million in losses and 450,000 minutes of outage time annually because of copper theft.

GroundSmart Copper Clad Steel is specifically designed to disperse fault currents and lightning strikes at a lower total cost of ownership compared to pure copper. It is an electrical conductor that has copper metallurgically bonded to a solid steel core. This solution also makes it less susceptible to theft by increasing the resistance to cutting and drastically decreasing the scrap value. GroundSmart Copper Clad Steel can be jacketed with a polyethylene coating and printed to disguise and distinguish the wire from solid copper alternatives. For inside plant bonding and grounding applications CommScope produces a Copper Clad Aluminum version. The combination of these two metals result in a product uniquely suited for electrical applications where both cost and weight-to-conductivity issues are important. You can also be confident that the National Electrical Code (NEC) allows for CommScope’s Copper Clad Aluminum and Copper Clad Steel grounding solutions as alternatives to solid copper.

GroundSmart Copper Clad Steel and Copper Clad Aluminum benefit from a specialized CommScope BiMetals technology and manufacturing process. The products are created by bonding different metals into a single conductor, resulting in a low-cost lower risk alternative to using solid copper. This solution is produced at the CommScope facility in Statesville, N.C., that is ISO 9001 and ISO 14000 registered.

For more information about CommScope or other copper theft deterrent products, click here to go to Utility Products' Buyers Guide.

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