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Multi-Tenant Buildings

The special requirements of multi-tenant buildings are being addressed in the TIA TR-42.3 subcommitteeMulti-tenant commercial buildings have unique requirements, beyond those that are covered in the c...

January 1, 2001  

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The special requirements of multi-tenant buildings are being addressed in the TIA TR-42.3 subcommittee

Multi-tenant commercial buildings have unique requirements, beyond those that are covered in the current ANSI/TIA/EIA 569-A standard — a standard that is primarily oriented to single-tenant commercial office buildings. But building owners, consultants, Access Providers and Service Providers for these buildings should take note — there is a new Annex under development in the TIA TR42.3 subcommittee that will address these requirements.

Following is an overview of the topology and the main considerations in the design of multi-tenant pathways and spaces.


Multi-tenant buildings are challenged to support the escalating demand on their pathways and spaces as a result of commercial tenants’ need for telecommunications connectivity, which includes both cabled or “wireline” connectivity and wireless connectivity. Multi-tenant buildings are further challenged by the “phased” nature of their use as tenants move in and out. As tenants cycle through the building, evolving needs may drive design modifications to the building and will continually force the building to adapt to the demands of their customers.

The new proposed Annex recognizes the evolving nature of commercial tenants’ needs and addresses the design of telecommunications pathways and spaces to support these needs during the initial planning stages of new building designs. The topology that is proposed for multi-tenant buildings is illustrated in Figure 1. It consists of a common building backbone that is designed to support the telecommunications requirements common to all of the tenants.

The common building backbone is the responsibility of the building owner or agent and includes the necessary pathways and spaces for Access Provider and Service Provider equipment and cabling. This common backbone serves the tenants who may occupy one or more floors of a building or a portion of a floor of a building. The design of the telecommunications facilities within the tenant space follows the standard topology and requirements of the TIA 569-A standard, including an equipment room for tenant equipment and telecommunications rooms as required, depending on the floor space. These facilities and the associated telecommunications cabling are under the control of the tenants.


Following is a description of the main building blocks as illustrated in Figure 1 and some of the special engineering considerations that are required:

1. Entrance facility — accommodation should be made for multiple service entrance points to support multiple access, taking into account Access Provider requirements and different alternatives for delivering service. As tenants may require diversity of service for assurance of service continuity, the design of entrance spaces may require more than one wireline telecommunications entrance room.

2. Access provider and Service provider spaces — these spaces should be controlled. Common approaches include lockable cabinets and caged space and shall be accessed through common-use corridors. These spaces should be in close proximity to the Common Equipment Room — Backbone (CER-B) or can share space with the CER-B, which should then be segregated by means of partitions.

3. Common Equipment Room — Backbone (CER-B) is an enclosed space for equipment and backbone interconnections for more than one tenant in a building. It may be appropriate to employ more than one CER-B for larger buildings that exceed 10 floors in height or for buildings that are served by both wired and wireless Access providers and Service providers. CER-Bs should be as close as feasible to wireless transmission/reception devices (if applicable) and to the location where the vertical backbone pathways rise throughout the building. Adequate pathways should be provided between all the different common spaces and additional pathways from the CER-B to tenant equipment rooms where bypass is contemplated.

4. Common Telecommunications Room (CTR) — this should contain only those facilities to serve the entirety of the building or a number of tenants. CTRs should be centrally located and vertically aligned in multi-story buildings; the room size can vary depending on the number of functions that are served from a space of 3 x 2.4 m (10 x 8 ft) or 1.2 x 1.8 m (4 x 6 ft). The CTR is intended to serve a maximum area of 3000 sq. m (30,000 sq. ft) for the cabling distances specified in TIA 568-A (90 m).

This is a brief overview of the major elements of the proposed design multi-tenant building pathways and spaces. Keep in mind that this information is preliminary and is subject to change. Readers are invited to submit comments on these proposals — through the TIA balloting process, to Cabling Systems magazine or directly to me at Your comments will be taken into consideration in the development of the standard.CS

Paul Kish is Director of IBDN Systems & Standards at NORDX/CDT in Pointe Claire, PQ. He is also Chair of the TR-42 engineering committee.

Disclaimer: The information presented is the author’s view and is not official TIA correspondence.

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