Data Center Cabling Solutions
What's New in the World of Telecommunications Standards: Fiber Channel, IEEE 802, and TIA

What's New in the World of Telecommunications Standards: Fiber Channel, IEEE 802, and TIA

  • May 11, 2017
  • Rob Jordan

By: Rob Jordan | Data Center Infrastructure Architect

The telecommunications standards bodies can be hard to understand at times. Heraclitus, the wise Greek philosopher, once said, "The only thing that is constant is change.” Nowhere is this truer than in the telecommunications industry's standards.

Keeping up with the constant changes in our standards can be a full-time job. Let me try to help simplify the process by reviewing some of the recent changes to a few of our major guidelines. I will address changes in three basic areas: Fibre Channel, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA).

Fibre Channel

The Fibre Channel standard provides guidelines for our storage area networks. As customers plan their storage networks for 8G and 16G, the standards body has provided guidelines for 32G and 128G.

  • FC 32G PI-6 and FC 128G PI-6P (completed) - Something to note here is that FC 32G actually has a bit rate of 28.05G and FC 128G will use parallel optics (4 lanes of 32G).
  • FC 64G PI-7 and FC 256G PI-7P (June 2018) - Something to note here is that 64G actually has a bit rate of 56.2G and 256G will use parallel optics (4 lanes of 64G).
  • WBMMF OM5 guidelines will be added for Fibre Channel. This will be a transceiver media option for PI-7 and 7P (64G/256G).

An interesting note is a standard will not provide guidance for breakouts... but do not fear. We at CABLExpress would be glad to help determine industry best practice solutions for your breakout requirements.


The IEEE currently provides guidelines for our LAN/MAN that support Ethernet. Customers are currently building LANs to support 10G, 40G and 100G speeds. The committees are looking to provide guidance at 200G and 400G in upcoming releases.

IEEE 802.3bs - The IEEE 802.3bs Task Force was established last year to provide guidance for 200G and 400G LAN solutions.

  • 200G physical layer specifications
    • 500m over singlemode using parallel optics (4 lanes)
    • 2km over singlemode using parallel optics (4 lanes)
    • 10km over singlemode using parallel optics (4 lanes)
  • 400G physical layer specifications
    • 100m over multimode using parallel optics (16 lanes) released
    • 500m over singlemode using WDM
    • 2km over singlemode using WDM
    • 10km over singlemode using WDM
    • Dec 2017 release

IEEE 802.3cd Next Generation One and Two Hundred (NGOATH) - The 802.3cd Task Force is working to define guidelines for 50G,100G, and 200G that are different from the 802.3bs Task Force.  The 802.3cd Task Force will be based on 50G transceivers and provide guidelines for multiple mediums. The release of this standard is planned for Q3 2018.

  • 50G Ethernet
    • Single lane using 50G transceivers
    • Copper Twinaxial cables up to 3m
    • MMF OM4 up to 100M
  • 100G Ethernet
    • Two lanes using 50G transceivers
    • Copper Twinaxial cables up to 3m
    • MMF OM4 up to 100M
  • 200G Ethernet
    • Four lanes using 50G transceivers
    • Copper Twinaxial cables up to 3m
    • MMF OM4 up to 100m

There appears to be a common theme as we look at the road map of transceivers and bandwidth growth. The MPO connector and parallel optics will be included in our future. We can no longer plan our networks for future growth without considering the relationship between the medium and the transceivers. Let’s keep going and we will see what changes the IEEE has in store for us.

802.3bt DTE Power via MDI over 4 pair - Here are just a few updates in the area of Power over Ethernet (PoE):

  • Split Type 3 and Type 4 into new clause (Clause 145)
  • Support 10 baseT
  • Use all 4 pair
  • Expected current levels 850mA to 1000mA
  • Jan 2018


The TR-42 Engineering Committee develops standards for applications in the telecommunications cabling infrastructure. The standard covers data centers, commercial buildings, residential, healthcare facilities, education facilities, and most other enterprise verticals. The standard is divided into three categories: Common, Premises, and Cabling & Components. There are currently nine working subcommittees.

TR 42.1 Commercial Building Telecommunication Cabling - TIA 568 is a living document, which means there are always updates and changes. There are five parts: 568.0 General, 568.1 Commercial, 568.2 Copper, 568.3 Fiber, 568.4 Coax.

  • 568.0 General
    • Updated references and new media types, addendums will include CAT8 and WBMMF
  • 568.1 Commercial
    • Updated references and new media types
  • 568.2 Copper
    • Performance specifications for CAT8 up to 30m
    • End plug application and testing
    • 28 AWG study for patch cords, currently standard support up 26 AWG
  • 568.3 Optical Cables and Components
    • Polarity and testing moved from 568.0 to 568.3
    • Splitters are added to fiber budgets
    • Intrinsic attenuation on MMF changed from 3.5dB/km to 3.0 dB/km
    • SMF return loss changed from -26dBm to -35dBm
  • 1179-A Healthcare
    • Recommends a minimum of OM4
    • Minimum of CAT6A in backbone and horizontal
    • Minimum of two fibers required for backbone
    • MPO connectors are permitted
    • Recommendations for wireless and DAS solutions
  • 942 Data Centers
    • Added MPO-16, MPO-32 (ANSI/TIA 604-18)
    • Added MPO-24 (ANSI/TIA 604-5)
    • Added CAT8
    • Recommends minimum of CAT6A or higher
    • Added WBMMF
    • Added 75 ohm broadband coaxial cable and connectors
    • Recommends pre-terminated cabling solutions
    • Added recommendations for distribution and interconnect cables
    • Recommends cabinets 48” deep and wider than 24”
    • Recommends proper labeling, routing, and cable management
    • Reduced maximum cable length for EDAs from 10m to 7m
  • 598D
    • Specs for fiber colors 13-16 (Lime, Tan, Olive, Magenta)
    • Approved Lime color for WBMMF

Understand the Standards

In this article, we've covered some of the changes to several of the standards that are important to our industry. It really is a full-time job to keep up with every update of every bulletin or addendum. I hope this helps and always know that we are available to assist you with your journey to understanding standards and updates.

To learn more about the current telecommunications standards, check out our white paper, Conflicts in Data Center Fiber Structured Cabling Standards.