Copper Theft Targeted Steel-Core Grounding Cable

HICKORY, N.C.: CommScope says it has developed a copper-alternative grounding wire to deter copper theft at broadcast and telecom transmission facilities.

CommScope’s GroundSmart Copper Clad Steel is said to be “designed for use in subsurface grounding grids, as well as inside and outside plant-bonding 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 of Outside Plant Solutions, Broadband for 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. CommScope said the Electrical Safety Foundation International reported in 2009 that U.S. utilities had around $60 million in losses and 450,000 minutes of outage time annually because of copper theft.

CommScope said its copper-clad steel cable “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.”

The cable 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.