The accomplishments of the Telecommunications Industry Association, an affiliate of the Electronic Industries Alliance (tia/eia--Arlington, VA), over the past several years are well-chronicled and have impacted--even revolutionized--the premises-cabling industry. To many in the industry, these accomplishments are among the biggest surprises of the past five years, mainly because getting representatives from more than 100 companies to agree on anything is an amazing accomplishment in itself. As a result of these united efforts, practically every facet of the cabling industry--from design and installation to technology development and product marketing--has been deeply affected.
Some of the more critical standards, protocols, and bulletins from the tia include the eia/tia-568 basic cabling standard as well as its revised version, tia/eia-568a, which defines end-to-end connectivity and channel performance parameters for structured cabling systems. Also receiving tia approval are the eia/tia-568 standard`s close cousins: eia/tia-569 for cable pathways and spaces, eia/tia-570 for residential and light-commercial wiring, tia/eia-606 for administrative monitoring of a building`s telecommunications infrastructure, and tia/eia-607 for commercial building grounding and bonding. There have also been a slew of telecommunications systems bulletins that define areas such as unshielded twisted-pair (utp) cable and connectors and field-test requirements and procedures.
The tia is also working closely with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (New York City) and global organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization and the International Electrotechnical Commission (Geneva) to develop cabling standards dealing with increased complexity, faster transmission speeds, higher bandwidths, and more universal interoperability requirements.
But there is concern in some quarters that the tia is being dominated by cabling and component manufacturers, whose vested interests could potentially delay or kill a design, technology, or protocol that may be beneficial to end-users but not to vendors. "The standards process has degenerated into corporate turf wars and politics," says bicsi executive director Jay Warmke. More specifically, one of the tia`s strongest proponents and contributors, John Siemon, co-chairman of the TR-41.8.1 working group and engineering vice president of The Siemon Co. (Watertown, CT), has expressed disappointment that "the continued work by a technically qualified tia task group has not yet resulted in standard performance qualification requirements for patch cords." And many questions are also being raised about the tia`s preoccupation with enhanced Category 5, when Category 6 is on the immediate horizon and Category 7 on the more distant horizon.