March 30, 2023

The real cost of low-quality cable

Getting the balance between quality and low cost right is one of the everyday challenges faced by businesses in all industries across the world. Identifying which investments will generate return is vital for procurement teams and not always a simple choice. It can be easy to feel that investment is needed in new, advanced technologies that will drive efficiency in and of their own right, however, there is an argument for ensuring that the equipment that is needed to underpin this is not neglected. In this week’s blog, Peter Raabe, Strategic Marketing Director at RFS looks at the need to ensure quality infrastructure and why it is essential to avoid a race to the bottom on cost.

Peter Raabe, Strategic Marketing Director

When it comes to essential infrastructure there are of course multiple elements, however here we will look specifically at cable. Cable is an essential part of connectivity infrastructure and forms the backbone of a network. Yes, when looking for areas to introduce cost savings, cable is often seen as an ideal candidate due to the availability of low-cost cable. After all, cable is cable. However, it is not the case that all cable is created equal, there may be low-cost options on the market, but there is a strong argument for making investments in premium cable. 

Avoiding short-termism

One of the biggest arguments against choosing a premium cable is the initial cost – there is a more cost effective alternative and this lowers my CAPEX. This may be true in the short term; however, low-cost cable goes hand in hand with low-quality cable which will deteriorate at a much faster rate. This results in a need to replace the cable within a much shorter time frame. The business not only incurs the cost of new cable, but procurement costs, the cost of labour to rip and replace and the downtime caused by the disruption of upgrading. 

It presents a false economy and as the saying goes ‘buy cheap, buy twice’. At RFS we are focused on designing premium cable solutions that are built to last. Take the example of RFS HELIFLEX cable deployed at a transmitter site in Germany in 1972. The site was upgraded over 50 years ago and the cable is still performing today. Here is quality that can be measured not just in years, but in decades and is delivering long term ROI. 

Reaching full potential 

Beyond the long-term cost saving of selecting premium quality cable that is built to last, there are additional benefits that come from investing in cable. Firstly, as the backbone of the network, low-quality cable introduces a glass ceiling for the performance of equipment using the cable. For example, a network may introduce active components to enhance, capacity and connectivity speeds. However, if those active elements are reliant on low-quality cable that does perform to the standard of its premium counterparts, the active elements in turn cannot reach their full potential. That is not to say that the active elements won’t work, but that more active elements will be needed to achieve the desired results. Again, it comes down to looking at the big picture and evaluating whether to opt for a low-cost, low-quality cable to reduce short term CAPEX is worth the cost to the business in the longer term. 


Put very simply the true cost of poor-quality cable is opportunity cost. In many instances it will present a false economy that in the long term sees the need to replace the cable incurring the cost and disruption associated with this, increasing the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership). Furthermore, by choosing not to invest in its backbone, elements of the wider network can see themselves limited by the performance of low-quality cable. The effect is a cost when it comes to performance and efficiency. Cable cost cutting can seem like an easy win when looking at avenues to balance budgets. However, looking at the big picture, there is a real question of whether it is worth the cost in the long term, and in many cases the conclusion must be that it is not.