TIA-942 Data Center Infrastructure Standard Keeps Pace with the Evolving Digital World

By Jacques Fluet, Director, Data Center Program at TIA

As a leading industry standards development organization, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) membership continually and proactively revises or reaffirms ANSI standards to keep pace with the latest technologies, market trends, and the global economy. In a coordinated effort with numerous industry experts, TIA members have updated the globally adopted TIA-942 Data Center Infrastructure Standard to address the massive growth of data, emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), and the growing need for sustainability that place unprecedented demands on data center infrastructure.

By 2025, global data generation is predicted to reach 181 trillion gigabytes, with a significant portion created and processed at the edge.[i] This surge coincides with the rise of data- and compute-intensive AI applications that require high-bandwidth, low-latency transmission and significantly higher cabling and rack power densities. At the same time, data centers of all types and sizes face pressure to reduce environmental impact by lowering their energy consumption, water usage, and carbon footprint. These unprecedented trends force data center operators and designers to upgrade cabling, power, and cooling infrastructure and rethink several design, installation, and operations aspects. This is where the newly revised TIA-942-C standard comes in.

Following are the major modifications made in TIA-942-C:

  • Sustainability and climate change are now a greater focus throughout the standard with several new considerations, including site selection risk analysis and mitigation for better adaptability to regional conditions, self-generated power such as onsite renewables, energy reuse, and other initiatives for efficient use of resources. The term “standby power” is now used to refer to any technology used as standby power, including battery energy storage systems (BESS), natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cells.
  • Cabling infrastructure requirements have been updated to recognize single balanced twisted-pair cable for horizontal cabling and allow for any TIA-568.3-compliant optical fiber connectors outside equipment outlets (EOs). The standard also now requires a minimum of two category 6A or higher performing cables to wireless access points when using balanced twisted-pair cabling and recommends a minimum of two optical fibers for horizontal and backbone cabling.
  • Higher cabling and rack power densities associated with technologies like AI are addressed by requiring a minimum of 800mm-wide cabinets to ensure adequate cable management in functional areas that house switches (i.e., MDA, HDA, and IDA). Temperature and humidity guidelines now align with the 5th addition of ASHRAE TC 9.9 Thermal Guidelines for Data Processing Environments, including the new H1 class for high-density air-cooled equipment. The standard also adds a new informative annex on liquid immersion cooling, and the term “heat removal” is now used to refer to any technology that cools equipment.
  • Edge data centers are addressed by incorporating the TIA-942-B-1 addendum, with clear guidelines and initial infrastructure requirements for edge data centers. This includes multiple updates to reflect the current state of technology, including adding thermal guidelines from ASHRAE TC 9.9 Technical Bulletin on Edge Computing. The standard also adds new recommendations for managing micro edge data center environments to harmonize with ASHRAE TC 9.9.

In addition to these updates, TIA-942-C clarifies the applicability and structure of annexes, including renumbering and changing several key annexes from informative to normative. It also clarifies details surrounding security, seismic resistance, fire protection, and remote operation requirements to be more in line with industry best practices. While the TIA-942 certification rating system (i.e., 1 Basic, 2 Redundant, 3 Concurrently Maintainable, and 4 Fault Tolerant) and certification types (i.e., Design, Facility, Ready) have not changed, the requirements are now clearer and outcome-driven for more flexible and straightforward implementation.

Considering the latest industry trends of our evolving digital world, TIA-942-C is a vital resource for anyone involved in the data center lifecycle, from design and construction to installation, commissioning, and ongoing operations. The standard also helps customers clearly specify data center provider requirements for various levels of resiliency and security.

To dive deeper into the trends and resulting updates within the TIA-942-C standard download our white paper here.

To purchase the updated TIA-942-C Standard, CLICK HERE

For more information about TIA or the TIA-942 Certification Program, visit www.tiaonline.org. And if you are interested in contributing to the future of data centers, please contact datacenterinfo@tiaonline.org.

[i] Data Age 2025: The Evolution of Data to Life-Critical, IDC