To the uninitiated -- oh well, maybe to all of us -- the sizeable list of groups that develop technical standards can seem like incomprehensible alphabet soup. Here is a brief introduction to some standards bodies relevant to the structured cabling business:
May 1, 2001
The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) creates most of the standards for building data cabling. This trade association is well-known in the network business and plays a number of roles. Its standards work falls under the jurisdiction of the TIA Technical Committee and the Standards and Technology Department. There are more than 70 standards committees under the Technical Committee, organized into five divisions: fiber optics, user premises equipment, network equipment, wireless equipment and satellite communications. Building wiring standards fall under the user premises equipment division — particularly the TR-42 committee and its subcommittees. A Canadian, Paul Kish of Nordx/CDT in Montreal (and a Cabling Systems columnist), chairs TR-42. The TIA’s Web site is www.tiaonline.org.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversees the work of many standards bodies in the United States. ANSI is based in Washington, DC, but is not a government agency. It is a private, non-profit organization, which was set up in 1918 to administer and co-ordinate the voluntary standardization system. It has an annual budget of about $16 million, more than 75 employees, and a membership of more than 1,000 companies and organizations. ANSI is the official representative of the United States to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and other international standards bodies. The Institute’s Web site is www.ansi.org.
The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) is the Canadian government body — actually a Crown corporation reporting to Parliament through the Minister of Industry — that oversees the Canadian standards system. Like ANSI, the SCC co-ordinates Canadian contributions to ISO. Accredited standards-development organizations may submit standards to the Standards Council for approval as National Standards of Canada. The Standards Council of Canada’s Web site is www.scc.ca.
The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) was founded in 1919 to develop standards for the Canadian market and test products’ compliance with those standards. Some TIA cabling standards have also been adopted as CSA standards. The Canadian Standards Association’s Web site is www.csa.ca.
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the worldwide umbrella organization for standards of all kinds. Established in 1947, it is a federation made up of one standards body from each of more than 130 countries. Through agreements among its members, ISO publishes international standards. It is perhaps best known in the business world for its ISO 9000 standard for quality assurance, but ISO’s standards cover everything from paper sizes to the speed of photographic film to standard abbreviations for country names and currencies. ISO is a word derived from the Greek “isos”, meaning equal. ISO’s Web site is www.iso.ch.