Data Centers

Introducing ANSI/TIA-942-C: Recent Updates to Data Center Standards

Henry Franc
Recent updates to ANSI/TIA-942 data center standards include recognition of a new media type, updated connectivity requirements and more.


Data Center Standards and Updates

A data center’s performance, quality, and security are built on a foundation of best practices provided by data center standards. By providing minimum requirements for design, data center standards guide teams as they develop data center spaces and fine-tune operations.


Standards also make sure data center facilities can continue to keep up with rising demands that involve emerging technologies, data growth, and sustainability.


In May 2024, the third revision to the Telecommunications Infrastructure Standard for Data Centers (ANSI/TIA-942) was released. Known as ANSI/TIA-942-C, this revision builds on previous versions by continuing to incorporate new technologies to promote data center performance and efficiency amid an influx of data and new technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR).


What Are ANSI/TIA-942 Standards?

ANSI/TIA-942 documents industry leaders’ consensus on data center design and construction best practices. As a result, it covers:

  • Architecture
  • Cooling
  • Fire protection
  • Monitoring
  • Physical security
  • Power
  • Safety
  • Telecommunications

It applies to all data center types, including hyperscale, colocation, edge, and enterprise data centers—from a single rack to a standalone data center facility.


The standards are developed by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), an association that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and represents more than 400 organizations that work in the telecommunications sector.


What’s Different About ANSI/TIA-942-C?

ANSI/TIA-942, like all ANSI standards, is reviewed every five years for potential action. Most of the enhancements made to ANSI/TIA-942 during the revision process are driven by user feedback. According to Tom McGarry, TIA’s vice president of standards, many of the comments received over the past few years involved the need for data centers to reduce environmental impact.


Users also wanted standards to address the fact that more data processing is happening at the edge as AI applications require high-bandwidth, low-latency transmission and, as a result, higher cabling and rack power densities.


The updates to ANSI/TIA-942 include:

  • Recognition of a new media type

  • Updated connectivity requirements

  • Incorporation of previously published documents focusing on edge data centers

  • New requirements and recommendations for cabling, floor-loading capacity, and minimum cabinet width

  • Clarification of details surrounding security, seismic resistance, fire protection, and remote operation requirements

  • Clarification of TIA’s data center certification rating system

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most significant changes.

Cabling Infrastructure Updates

ANSI/TIA-942-C updates for cabling infrastructure include:

  • The recognition of single balanced twisted-pair cable for horizontal cabling.

  • Allowance of TIA-568.3-compliant optical fiber connectors outside equipment outlets.

  • Requirements for a minimum of two Category 6A or higher performing cables to a wireless access point when using balanced twisted-pair cabling.

  • Recommendations for a minimum of two optical fibers for horizontal and backbone cabling.

Preparing for Higher Densities

ANSI/TIA-942-C updates for cabling and rack power density include:

  • Requirements for data center cabinets that are a minimum of 800 mm wide to support cable management in functional areas that house switches.

  • Temperature and humidity guidelines that align with the fifth edition of ASHRAE Technical Committee 9.9 Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments.

  • A new informative annex on liquid immersion cooling.

  • Using “heat removal” as a term to refer to any and all technology that cools equipment.

Enabling Sustainability and Climate Change

According to Goldman Sachs, AI is set to drive an increase in data center power demand of 160%. A new study led by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) reveals that data centers could consume up to 9% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030.


New considerations for site selection risk analysis and mitigation included in ANSI/TIA-942-C allow for better adaptability to regional conditions, as well as for self-generated power. Within the standard, “standby power” now refers to any technology used as standby power. This could include:

  • A battery energy storage system (BESS)
  • Hydrogen fuel cells
  • Natural gas

Recognizing Edge Data Centers

The edge data center market is expanding quickly: Its global market size will reach $33.9 billion by 2028.


To recognize this, ANSI/TIA-942-B-1 addendum for edge data centers was added to ANSI/TIA-942-C, with clear initial infrastructure requirements and design guidelines for edge or micro data centers. It also adds new recommendations for managing edge data centers to align with ASHRAE Technical Committee 9.9 Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments.


Although the newest revision of ANSI/TIA-942 has now been published, that doesn’t mean expansion of topics and evolution of the guidance has stopped. The TIA Data Center Work Group continues to explore areas of relevance to the community, including high-density compute, artificial intelligence, liquid cooling, new fiber applications and interfaces.


Consider Us Your Data Center Resources

No matter what type of data center project you’re working on, standards are there to guide you through the process—and so is Belden.


We can answer your questions, help you understand the changes to ANSI/TIA-942-C or help you with your next data center initiative.


If you’d like to learn more, or you wish to contribute to this (or any other) growing body of mission-critical guidance, then we can help you understand the process and advocate on your behalf. Belden currently serves as the chair of the TIA-TR.42 engineering committee responsible for all premises cabling systems, as well as many other subcommittee leadership and editorial positions.


If you have questions about the recent revisions to ANSI/TIA-942, or if you need more detail or clarification, we’re happy to answer your questions.


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