Standards for the Telecommunication Industry: TIA-942 vs. the Uptime Institute Tiers

Reliability and uptime are critical requirements for the telecommunication industry, and implementation of standards is a way to ensure both.

Standards for the Telecommunication Industry: TIA-942 vs. the Uptime Institute TiersTIA-942, or TIA-942-A, lays down standards for cabling systems and network design when planning and designing data centers. It covers a broad review of applications, including network architecture, electrical design, system redundancy, database management, control against physical hazards, environmental control, power management and more. Designing data centers with TIA-942 offers the advantages of standard nomenclature, fail-safe operations, robust protection against disasters, expansibility, scalability and long-term reliability.

TIA-942 standards trace their origins to the Uptime Institute’s four tiered approach, which dates back to the 1990's. The Uptime Institute's grading system indicates the level of resiliency. Tier-III, under which a majority of data centers fall, are awarded to data centers that:

  • have multiple delivery paths for power and cooling
  • have redundant critical components
  • have fully fault-electrical, storage and distribution networks in the facility

Rated-4 data centers have independent dual-powered cooling systems in addition to the above.

The deployments specified in Tier III allow the data center to perform maintenance without taking computing services offline and, therefore, minimize downtime.

TIA-942 has in place similar tiers, based on the Uptime Institute tiers, but there are significant differences between these standards.

While TIA’s tiers lay down rigid technical specifications on how to design or construct the data centre, Uptime Institute's tier standards are more goal-oriented, with the method remaining flexible.

For reliability, it is not enough that the plans for a facility meet the design criteria. It is necessary that the data center is actually built to these specs. TIA-942 focuses on the design elements, or whether such plans are incorporated in the design. It still takes robust engineering to actually implement such designs properly and bring it into fruition. In contrast, the Uptime Institute now has Operational Sustainability Standards and three additional ratings: Gold, Silver and Bronze, intertwined with the conventional Tier rating. The gold, silver and bronze ratings focus on operational practices over and above the design standards that the tiers one to four lay out.

Businesses looking to partner with data centers would do well to access not just the design specs of the data center, but also the extent to which such considerations boost actual performance, reliability and uptime. Lifeline Data Center offers robust data center solutions for your requirements. Please contact us for a tour today, or take a virtual tour.

Alex Carroll

Alex Carroll

Managing Member at Lifeline Data Centers
Alex, co-owner, is responsible for all real estate, construction and mission critical facilities: hardened buildings, power systems, cooling systems, fire suppression, and environmentals. Alex also manages relationships with the telecommunications providers and has an extensive background in IT infrastructure support, database administration and software design and development. Alex architected Lifeline’s proprietary GRCA system and is hands-on every day in the data center.
Alex Carroll