To help the industry battle these issues, Commscope 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 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 US authorities have issued a warning stating that copper theft is threat to homeland security and a survey published in 2009 published warned that utilities in the United States had reported $60 million in losses and 450,000 minutes of outage time annually because of copper theft.
GroundSmart Copper Clad Steel is 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.
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 unique solution is produced at the CommScope facility in Statesville, NC, that is ISO 9001 and ISO 14000 registered.