Telecommunications Standards


Prior to 1990, there were no standards for telecommunications-cabling infrastructure, except for a few proprietary standards developed by individual companies. As a result, those designing telecommunications equipment that used telecommunications cabling systems had little knowledge of the environment in which their equipment would operate in a given building. In the early 1990s, standards-writing bodies published telecommunications standards that defined this infrastructure. These standards provide performance requirements along with guidelines covering the design and installation of the telecommunications infrastructure.

Telecommunications Spaces and Pathways

Standards for telecommunications spaces and pathways are provided in TIA-569-B Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces (569-B) and addenda. This American standard has been under constant revision since it was first published as American National Standards Institute (ANSI) / Electronic Industries Alliance/Telecommunications Industry Association (EIA/TIA) in 1990. While it provides design guidelines and is not required by code it is an important document and is to be followed. Canadian representatives provided input to this standard and it is unlikely that any amendments will be required because of differences between American and Canadian codes. Further information may be found on the Telecommunications Industry Association web site.

Since the early 1990s, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has also been developing equivalent standards for Canada. Its most recent equivalent standard was published in 1999 as CAN/CSA-T530-99 "Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces" (T530). While the first edition of T530 was unique (although technically equivalent to its American counterpart), this CSA standard is a reprint of the then equivalent American standard TIA/EIA-569-A (the predecessor to 569-B, noted above) along with some minor amendments for Canada. T530 is now obsolete and has been withdrawn by the CSA. Consequently, the American Standard (TIA/EIA-569-B plus addenda) is to be used.

Telecommunications Cabling

Standards for telecommunications cabling are contained in the related American series of standards TIA/EIA-568-B Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard (568-B). This standard is now so large that it is published in three parts and addenda have been issued for each of the parts. Part 1 provides general requirements, Part 2 provides further requirements for unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cable and components, while Part 3 provides further requirements for optical fiber cable and components. Further information may be found at Telecommunications Industry Association.

In Canada, the CSA has published CAN/CSA-T529-95 Telecommunications Cabling Systems in Commercial Buildings (T529). Once again, this CSA standard is a reprint of ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A, an earlier version of the equivalent American standard 568-B referenced above. However, the CSA standard has not been updated since 1995 and CSA has withdrawn it. Accordingly, TIA/EIA-568-B is to be used. Once again, it should be adjusted, as needed, to meet requirements of Canadian codes, although it is highly unlikely that such adjustments will be required.

This standard covers both components (such as cables and jacks) as well as installation methods: if the components are poorly installed, they will not deliver the capacity expected of them. The standards also prescribe a "star" topology with the same telecom rooms being used for all telecom services (including voice and data), and set limitations on maximum cable lengths.

The 568-B series of standards and addenda are being replaced by the 568-C series of standards.

Telecommunications Grounding and Bonding

Grounding and bonding requirements for telecommunications systems are provided in Joint Standard Commercial Building Grounding (Earthing) and Bonding Requirements For Telecommunications, ANSI-J-STD-607-A-2002 (607-A). This American standard replaces ANSI/TIA/EIA-607. It provides design guidelines and is not required by code. However, it is to be followed. Canadian representatives provided input to this standard and it is unlikely that any amendments will be required because of conflicts with Canadian codes. Further information (including ordering information) may be found at Telecommunications Industry Association.

Treasury Board Standard TBITS 6.9

Treasury Board has published TBITS 6.9 "Telecommunications Wiring Systems in Government-owned and Leased Buildings". While work on the third edition of this standard was completed in the spring of 2003, it was never published by Treasury Board and the 1997 version remains on TB's web site. TBITS 6.9 adopts the EIA/TIA standards referenced above and adapts them for application by the Government of Canada. It also contains explanatory information along with guidelines for provisioning. While it is technically obsolete, many of the approaches and concepts remain sound.

The Use of Advisory Words

Mandatory requirements in these standards are designated by the word "shall"; advisory requirements are designated by the words "should", "may" or "desirable", which are used interchangeably. However, the use of advisory words does not mean that a requirement can be ignored. The intention is that advisory words indicate a requirement, but that the knowledgeable designer is given some reasaonable latitude as to how it will be met.

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