Standards are considered to be guidelines while codes are enforceable by law. A technical standard is an established norm or requirement. It is usually a formal document that establishes uniform engineering or technical criteria, methods, processes, and practices. It can also be a controlled artifact or similar formal means used for calibration. A technical standard may be developed privately or unilaterally, for example by a corporation, regulatory body, military, etc.

Standards can also be developed by groups such as trade unions, and trade associations. Standards organizations often have a more diverse input and usually develop voluntary standards: these might become mandatory if adopted by a government, business contract, etc. A code, like the National Electric Code (NEC), in the US, while it is not itself a U.S. law, it is mandatory as it is commonly mandated by state or local law. Most jurisdictions in the USA adopted the NEC as law.

Standards Groups

IEC – International Electrotechnical Commission

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) is a global organization which publishes standards for the electronics industry. Within the IEC there are various different committees. The TC86 is a sub-committee that is responsible for fiber optics similar to the TIA-568 standards in the US. Applicable standards include:

  • SC86A: Fibers and Cables
  • SC86B: Fiber Optic Interconnecting Devices and Passive Components
  • SC86C: Fiber Optic Systems and Active Devices

ITU – International Telecommunication Union

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is an organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, is the most important telecom standards-setting body in the world. In actual fact, the ITU has no power to set standards. But if its members agree on a standard, it effectively becomes a world standard. Like the IEC, the ITU also is divided into other organizations, or sectors.
There are 3 separate sectors that make up the ITU. They are:

  • Radio communication Sector (ITU-R)
  • Telecommunication Standardization Section (ITU-T)
  • Telecommunication Development Sector (ITU-D)
  • IEEE – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

The IEEE is the world’s largest technical professional society. It is designed to serve professionals involveThe Fiber School - Fiber Optic Standardsd in all aspects of the electrical, electronic, and computing fields and related areas of science and technology.

The IEEE is responsible for the family of LAN standards. The services and protocols specified in IEEE 802 map to the lower two layers (data link and physical) of the seven-layer OSI networking reference model.

The most widely used standards are for the Ethernet family, Token Ring, Wireless LAN, Bridging, and Virtual Bridged LANs. Standards define fiber distances as they relate to maximum distance.

US Standards: TIA – Telecommunications Industry Association (Formerly EIA)

The Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA) was a trade organization composed as an alliance of trade associations for electronics manufacturers in the United States. The EIA ceased operations on February 11, 2011, but the former sectors continue to serve the constituencies of EIA. The EIA telecommunications sector operated as the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA).
TIA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to help develop standards on electronic components, consumer electronics, electronic information, telecommunications, and Internet security.

The TIA was the driving force behind the TIA-568 Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling Standard. TIA’s Standards and Technology Department is comprised of ten technology areas which sponsor more than 70 standards formulating groups.

The most relevant standards to this class include:

  • TIA-526: Standard Test Procedures for Fiber Optic Systems
  • TIA-526-7: Measurement of Optical Power Loss of Installed Single-Mode Fiber Cable Plant
  • TIA-526-14-C: Optical Power Loss Measurement of Installed Multimode Fiber
  • TIA-568.1-D: Cable Types, Layout and Distances
  • TIA-568.3-D: Optical Fiber Cabling Components Standard
  • TIA-569-D: Commercial Building Standard for Telecommunications Pathways and Spaces
  • TIA-598-D: Optical Fiber Cable Color Coding
  • TIA-604-5: Fiber Optic Connector Intermateability Standards (“FOCIS-5”)

The purpose of the TIA-568.3-D standard is to specify cable and component transmission performance requirements for premises optical fiber cabling. Although this standard is primarily intended to be used by manufacturers of optical cabling solutions, other groups such as end-users, designers and installers may also find it useful.

US Standards: NEC – National Electric Code

The National Electrical Code (NEC) or NFPA 70, is a United States code for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment. It is updated every three years and is part of the National Fire Codes series published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

While the NEC is not itself a U.S. law, NEC use is commonly mandated by state or local law, as well as in many jurisdictions outside of the United States. The NEC codifies the requirements for safe electrical installations into a single, standardized source. The NEC specifies the minimum requirements to safeguard persons and property from the hazards of electricity and fire. Standards are considered to be guidelines while codes are enforceable by law.

A few of the NEC Communications Articles are listed below:

  • Article 100 – Definitions
  • Article 250 – Grounding
  • Article 300 – Wiring Methods
  • Article 770 – Optical Fiber Cables and Raceways
  • Article 800 – Communications Circuits