LMR® cables were the first of their kind, and since their release they are the cable we most frequently see faked and cloned throughout the coaxial cable industry. Many companies advertise LMR fakes or clones that are not really LMR, and you won’t notice the difference until you test or install the product, or once the cable has been exposed to the elements for a period of time. These counterfeit products tend to cut and paste the performance details from LMR without bothering to ensure their product also meets those specifications. Counterfeit products are seen frequently, and the cost of these fake cables is approaching the cost of a genuine LMR cable.
The LMR Trademark
LMR® is a registered trademark of Times Microwave Systems. It is not a generic cable term other companies are free to use. Times Microwave Systems is the only company that makes authentic LMR products. These cables set a quality standard other suppliers try to emulate, which can result in them falsely marketing inferior products as LMR cables. Companies who appropriate the LMR trademark for products and literature not produced by Times Microwave Systems violate that trademark.
One of the strengths of the LMR product line is it offers a complete package from the cable to the connectors to the tools for termination and installation. An RF interconnect is only as strong as its weakest point, the transition from cable to connector, so the tools for creating that cable-connector transition are crucial.
To verify you’re getting a genuine LMR cable, look for:
- Times Microwave Systems name
- Times Microwave Systems Cage Code 68999
- Manufacturing Location
- Registered trademark after LMR®
Difference Between a Fake and a Clone
The terms fakes and clones are used interchangeably when referring to knock-off cables, but they don’t mean the same thing. Fakes are counterfeit products, typically not produced in the United States, that market themselves as being a brand name cable but are not. Clones don’t necessarily claim to be the name brand product but are copies of the genuine product without the technical expertise or quality behind it.
Drawbacks of a Fake or Clone Cable
These fakes and clones of LMR may work fine as long as it’s not a mission critical application or doesn’t need to last over a long period of time. Although the cables might test similar upfront, they may not last because they’re not made of the same quality materials. The plastics and dielectrics of a fake cable may not have the UV resistance needed to survive outdoors and may break down. There are a lot of process steps for building LMR cables we take that others don’t which make a huge difference in the long run.
Common failures we see with fakes and clones include:
- Jacket failure
- UV deterioration
- Water penetration into the cable along the braid
- Degradation of performance over time due to breakdown of the dielectric
- Cracking of the outer conductor tape due to moisture migration down to the center conductor
- Poor dimensional tolerance of the dielectric causing electrical instability
How much does using a fake or clone really cost me?
Using inferior components can cost more in the long run and even lead to devastating system failure, especially in critical missions. For example, if a low-smoke cable doesn’t meet UL standards for emissions and fails or burns during a critical mission, the noxious smoke and gases can reduce visibility and potentially cost human lives.
Beyond these safety concerns, the cost of buying fakes and clones is considerable when compared to our reliable cables. Fake or clone cables damage more easily or contain faulty materials, and between the cost for replacement materials and the labor for reinstallation, the initial savings are depleted.
Company A tried to save money on materials by ordering products from a supplier that advertised the same quality, performance, and specifications. The fake LMR assemblies had unstable electrical performance and a lot of noise in communication signals. Replacing this cable with genuine LMR, combined with the reinstallation labor, was double the cost of using genuine LMR for the initial installation.
Fakes and clones of LMR cables are frequently the cause of failure in RF systems. With a fake cable, at best you might have unsatisfactory system performance; at worst, the system will fail, and it will all need to be replaced. To ensure your system reliably works as designed, be sure to buy genuine cables from a reliable supplier. Genuine LMR cables are only available from Times Microwave Systems and Supreme Landmobile & Wireless Corporation Sdn Bhd (SLW) as TMS licensed distributors in Malaysia and are designed to meet stringent specifications, be low loss, and have excellent flexibility with easy termination and UV resistance. For the last 30 years, we’ve provided all the connectors, tools, and expert engineering support you might need.