Smart Building

The Latest in Cabling Standards: What’s Up Ahead?

Henry Franc

It can feel like a full-time job just trying to keep up with our industry’s cabling standards.

Standards are created to ensure interoperability and establish minimum performance levels (different than codes, which are created to protect life, limb and property – such as NFPA Life Safety Code or National Electrical Code, for example).


Through our active participation in organizations like TIA, IEEE and ISO, Belden – along with many other reputable organizations and industry experts – helps provide input that shapes our cabling standards.


We know it’s difficult to stay on top of what’s happening, so we’ve gathered a short list of upcoming changes to cabling standards. Stay tuned – we’ll continue to fill you in as we learn more about each of these.


ANSI/TIA-568.5: Single-Pair Ethernet

Although it’s too early to speculate on specific details regarding ANSI/TIA-568.5, we do know this: The updated cabling standard will address single-pair Ethernet from 28AWG to 18AWG – and everything in between.


The standard is expected to provide specifications for cables, connectors, cords, links and channels using one-pair connectivity. It will be geared toward commercial conditions in regard to mechanical, ingress, climatic and electromagnetic environments (also known as “MICE1” environments).


There are a number of reasons that single-pair Ethernet is being considered today for these applications:

  • Changing design requirements for distributed electronics and shorter distances
  • Increasing capabilities for data and power to currently support speeds of up to 1 Gbps
  • Capability to support up to 50W of DC power for devices that need power and data
  • Space savings (single-pair Ethernet is lighter than traditional four-pair Ethernet)


Telecommunications Systems Bulletin: Optical Fiber Channel Polarity

TIA is working on a Telecommunications Systems Bulletin that will make fiber polarity far easier to understand and plan for.


In its most basic form, fiber polarity is the method of making sure that “transmit” talks to “receive.” There’s no “right” way to approach fiber polarity, which makes the topic even more confusing.


As more and more fiber cable is used to support applications like smart buildings, IoT and 5G networks, understanding fiber polarity is crucial to long-term system installation success.


ANSI/TIA-942-B.1: Edge Data Centers

Although ANSI/TIA-942 already provides lots of data center design guidance – on anything from a single rack to a standalone data center building – the data center environment is changing. ANSI/TIA-942 currently assumes that data centers are housed within some type of building envelope, but that’s no longer the case.


Today, data centers are being created inside containers, pods, shelters – and even inside boxes that are mounted on streetlight poles. (In fact, while I was attending a football game late last year, I noticed that each team had its own mini data center sitting along the sidelines.)


Data centers can now be transportable, portable or built outside of a traditional building envelope – and are being located much closer to users (also known as edge data centers). With data centers transforming in these new ways, the industry needs new guidance on design and development. And the ANSI/TIA-942-B.1 standard is set to provide it.


Want to learn more? Watch this webinar on the latest updates to industry cabling standards!