Fears mount over fake network goods

Piracy of networking products is a growing problem in the Middle East and could put business communications at risk, leading industry figures warn.

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By  Daniel Stanton Published  June 4, 2006

Piracy of networking products is a growing problem in the Middle East and could put business communications at risk, leading figures in the industry have warned. There have been reports from the US of counterfeit networking products being passed off as genuine brands, and the problem is prevalent in the Middle East as well. There is also concern in the region over a perceived growth in grey imports - official products bought outside the usual distribution channels, usually at a lower cost in a different country. “There is no doubt that the grey marketing and counterfeit goods issue does affect the business within the Middle East market,” said Dominic Morris, regional channel manager Middle East and Pakistan, Systimax Solutions. “The unfortunate aspect is that this material directly impacts end user clients. The dangers are unreliable products, products that do not function correctly, and systems not supported by the official vendor or local reseller. This can have considerable negative financial and operational effects.” Counterfeit goods, which often come from the Far East, may not meet the same standards of quality as genuine products and can affect network performance as a result. They may also be installed by people who are not qualified to provide an enterprise-quality network infrastructure. “Counterfeit or grey product is pushed through non-accredited integrators who do not have the necessary training to guarantee installation quality,” said Wes Tweedley, regional technical manager MEA, Systimax. “This then affects not only cabling performance, but also network hardware and application performance, limiting the overall network performance and investment.” However, Kandasamy Ganesan, Middle East and Africa district chair for BICSI, the association for networking professionals, said that most networking products do not offer large enough profit margins for it to be worthwhile making counterfeit versions. He also pointed out that vendors would often be closely involved in large-scale implementations, making it difficult for contractors to use fake cabling without being detected. In his experience, it tended to be smaller, off-the-shelf products that were most often counterfeited. This made small to medium businesses the most common target for counterfeiters. Ganesan said that the biggest threats to the networking industry came from refurbished products being passed off as new, and grey imports. He added that it would be extremely difficult to crack down on the grey market. “You can buy off the internet through any channel you want, so how can you stop it?” he said. “Because of the internet, it’s easy to procure.”

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