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Cabling Standards - What You Need to Know

Cabling Standards - What You Need to Know

Within the cabling industry, there are four main standards bodies who are all responsible for developing industry protocols. These standards specify the differing levels of performance required for different components, such as cables, connectors, installation, field testing, and administration. Having these globally recognised standards ensures that the systems perform at their required level, allowing customers to compare competing products, knowing that quality has been maintained throughout.

Cabling Standards

Although there are many crossovers, each cabling body specialises in a different area. The main bodies include the TIA, ISO, CENELEC and BSI. The TIA is generally adhered to by North American technicians, whereas ISO and CENELEC are used more so in the global market. We always ensure that our products meet the requirements set by the main British cables standards body, the BSI.

American National Standards Institute/Telecommunications Industry Association (ANSI/TIA)

The TIA is responsible for the ANSI/TIA-568-D series of standards for telecommunications cabling infrastructure. These standards were first released in 1991, although these original standards are now obsolete due to several revisions over the years. The current version, published in 2017, is ANSI/TIA-568-D, which covers several assignments.

The current ANSI/TIA-558-D document:



International Standards Organisation/International Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC)

ISO/IEC produce the ISO/IEC 11801 series of standards which cover both balanced copper cabling and fibre optic cabling. This standard was mainly designed for use in commercial premises, consisting either of a single building or multiple buildings within one campus. Generally, the requirements of ISO/IEC 11801 are more strict than those of TIA-568-C.

The current ISO/IEC document:


ISO/IEC 11801-3:2017/Cor 1:2018:



European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation (CENELEC)

CENELEC produce the EN50173 series of standards that are, for all intents and purposes, a direct equivalent to the ISO/IEC 11801 series. This standard develops European standards for electrical engineering.


CENELEC also produce the EN50174 series of standards, that is concerned with the way in which cabling systems are designed and installed.


Since then, the EN 50600 series of standards regarding data centre facilities and infrastructures have been created.


Another relevant CENELEC standard is:



British Standards Institute (BSI)

The BSI endorse CENELEC standards, offering mutual recognition between the European standard bodies, while prefixing them with their own authority code, i.e. EN 50174-1:2009 + A1:2011 becomes BS EN 50174-1:2009 + A1:2011

BSI also produces its own national standards:


The BSI have introduced the electrical testing and certification, Kitemarks for Cables. The scheme helps manufacturers become certified for the most commonly required standards for electrical cabling including:

  • IEC 60227
  • IEC 60245
  • EN 50525BS
  • EN 50214
  • BS 6004
  • BS 7211
  • BS 7629
  • BS 8346


Categories and Classes

There has been confusion for some time over the use of the terms ‘Category’ and ‘Class’ to define the performance of structured cabling solutions. ANSI/TIA use the term Category (abbreviated to Cat) to define both the performance of cables and components and the performance of the installed cabling. ISO/IEC, CENELEC (EN) and BSI (BS EN) use Category to define the performance of cables and components, and Class to define the performance of the installed cabling. The various Categories and Classes can be summarised as below:

Categories and Classes

It is crucial to note that the performance of a Cat 6 Permanent Link is not the same as that of a Class E Permanent Link, although both are rated to 250MHz and will both support the transmission of 1Gb Ethernet. The ISO/EN standards have tighter limit lines for the electrical parameters in all Classes when compared to their Category equivalent. This means that a cabling system that passes Class E will almost certainly pass Category 6, but not necessarily vice versa. The same applies to all Classes when compared to their Category equivalent.

As can be seen from above, there are many different standards relating to the design, installation, and testing of structured cabling solutions. When writing a specification document, it is not acceptable to simply list all of the standards and state that the completed installation shall comply with them all. It would only be possible to guarantee compliance with all of the standards by testing to them all, something that is not practical, nor cost-effective.

Netshop recommends adherence to the BS EN 50173 and BS EN 50174 series of standards, together with the relevant parts of BS 6701 and BS 7671 to ensure a fully compliant installation that conforms to UK legal requirements. It is the responsibility of the installer to ensure that their practices are in accordance with the latest published editions of the relevant standards.