The Real Cost of Fake and Clone Cables

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.

Table of Contents

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.

Example 1

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.

Example 2

Company B purchased 10 feet of a clone of LMR for an outdoor application. However, after 3 years, the cable had to be replaced due to UV damage. Over the lifespan of a genuine LMR cable, which is 20+ years, the clone cable had to be replaced 7 times. With the cost of labor for reinstallation and the time that the system was down, the cable cost significantly more than a genuine LMR cable.

Clone CableLMR Cable
Initial cost*: $1.53 x 10 ft = $15.30

Connectors*: $7.09 x 2 = $14.18

Labor (per installation)*: $400

Needs replacement every 3 years due to UV damage

Total cost over 20+ years: $3006.36

Initial cost*: $1.62 x 10ft = $16.20

Connectors*: $15.62 x 2 = $31.24

Labor (per installation)*: $400

Total cost over 20+ years: $447.44

Overall savings by using LMR cable: $2,558.92

*Example costs are estimated based on market availability and are subject to change.

Example 3

Company C used a fake LMR-FR cable for the cable risers in an office building. A building inspector noticed the cable, and because it was not a proper riser rated cable and a huge safety hazard, said it all had to be replaced.  All the cable in the elevator shafts and risers had to be ripped out and replaced with UL certified cables to ensure safety.

Fake CableLMR-FR Cable
Initial cost*: $1,729.90 for 1000 feet

Installation labor estimated cost*: $4,000

Replacement cable cost*: $2,630

Labor estimated replacement cost*: $20,000

Total of the project: $28,359.90
Initial cost*: $2,630 for 1000 feet

Installation labor estimated cost*: $4,000

Total cost: $6,630

Overall savings by using LMR cable: $22,729.90

*Example costs are estimated based on market availability and are subject to change.

Our Recommendation

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 our licensed distributors 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.

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