The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) is an industry organization with paying members from the communications/telecom industry. They develop minimal performance standards for cabling and related hardware and installation standards for the users/designers.

The TIA has been working on “performance” standards that will be helpful to you in your business. TIA can develop an Addendum that is considered to be part of a main standard, and therefore, normative. A TSB (Technical Service Bulletin), on the other hand, provides “guidance” and is more relaxed; it does not include “requirements.” See what applies to you by keeping up to date on the collection of standards now being developed. They include:

Data center cabling standards (to become TIA-942)

A full draft has been developed now and is out for the industry to comment on. All kinds of specifications have been agreed to that involve how a data center is equipped and designed. Some of the mandatory (“shall”) requirements deal with where sprinkler heads have to go, how dust in the computer room is handled, anti-static floors, what kind of fire extinguishers to use and where water drain pipes should be located.

Power over cable (component requirements/installation guidelines for DTE power)

This is work originally requested by IEEE but now goes beyond that original request. It gives guidelines for providing power over balanced twisted-pair cabling out to the devices (Voice over Internet Protocol phone, for example) that consume no more than 13W of power on two pairs, or 26W of power on all four pairs. This is strictly a low-voltage application but it will definitely benefit manufacturers who want to get power out to certain equipment.

Telecomm enclosure (TE) document

Finally a document was put together to become an Addendum that will be considered part of TIA-568-B.1. The TE is much like the TR (telecomm room), which may account for the fact that many telecomm enclosures already being installed today include “active” equipment. Note that the TE is located out in the horizontal area and the theory behind structured cabling is that there is no “active” equipment in the horizontal. All of this is yet to be settled.

Optical fiber field test guidelines

These guidelines could be in their final trip out for ballot comment and might be published by the time you read this. This is where there is an explanation on how to use the fiber optic loss test set (FOLTS) and the optical time domain reflectometer (OTDR) and why/when they might be warranted.

Industrial cabling standard

After major committee work, this cabling standard may be on its way to becoming a full document ready for its first public ballot by February 2004. The committee members have agreed on a way to interpret environmental requirements for the hardware by using the ISO originated “MICE” classification:

M = How the products meets mechanical requirements (for shock, vibration, etc.).

I = The IP rating or how well the hardware protects from pollution.

C = The climatic rating (room temperature during installation/operation, humidity, etc.).

E = The electromagnetic rating for emissions.

An example of a MICE rating could be if you had an M1, I1, C1 and E3 environment, the hardware would have to meet Level 1 criteria for three areas, and it would have to meet Level 3 requirements for the E3 rated area. More details will come later.

Introduction of the “automation island” term

This new term is being discussed. It is also referred to as an Apparatus Network and includes one or more network interfaces that may be outside the scope of the TIA standard. That apparatus network could be as little as a single sensor, or as large as a proprietary bus network for process control in a manufacturing plant. It needs to be decided whether “generic” cabling gets extended further into the apparatus network.

As you can see, there is a lot to watch. You’ve probably been waiting to get the data center and industrial cabling standards so you can see them for yourself. Some smaller documents may be coming out before the end of this year and look for the other standards later in 2004. All standards, TSBs and Addenda can be purchased (when authorized as a draft document or as a final document) via Global Engineering Documents by visiting the Standards Store on their Web site, www.ihs.com. EC

MICHELSON, president of Jackson, Calif.-based Business Communication Services and publisher of the BCS Reports, is an expert in TIA/EIA performance standards. Contact her at www.bcsreports.com or randm@volcano.net.