Uptime vs. TIA-942: Standard or guideline?

Uptime vs. TIA-942: Standard or guideline?

Published on May 22, 2017

Edward van Leent
Chairman & CEO at EPI Group of Companies

There have been many debates on the internet to discuss this topic including the confusion about its relation to codes and arguments about using a capital letter to indicate the term Standard. I think it is good to go back to one of the first definitions (as far back as 1667) which defined a Standard as ‘a specified principle, example or measure used for comparison to a level of quality or attainment’.  A guideline was defined as ‘A non-specific rule or principle that provides direction to action, behaviour or outcome’.  These definitions of course still leave some level of interpretation about what exactly can be identified even to the point that some would argue that the both terms can be used for the very same thing. I would argue that a Standard has a few important factors;

  1. Standards are developed by an accredited SDO (Standard Development Organization). This title is awarded by any of the three key members of the WSC (World Standards Cooperation) or their regional or national members who have been given the authority to accredit SDO's. At a regional level you would have for example CEN which is the European standards body issuing EN standards. At the country level you have for example ANSI in the USA, BSI for the UK, SPRING in Singapore etc. Virtually any country in the world has their own.
  2. The development of the Standard is following a transparent development process as laid down by the organization which is governing the SDO development efforts. This typically includes key points such as that the process should be documented and available for others, members involved should be balanced etc.
  3. SDO’s are typically non-profit organizations
  4. SDO’s do not perform audits nor do they provide certification
  5. All requirements of the standard are transparent i.e. ALL requirements are available to those who wish to have insight in the standard and, just before you even ask the question; NO, this does not mean that the standard should be available for free.
  6. The Standard must be reviewed on a regular basis not to exceed 5-years. The outcome of that review will yield in either one of the three options, reaffirm, revise, withdraw.
  7. The intellectual property (IP) extends only to the standard itself and not to its use. This means that others than the SDO can use the material for various purposes such as using it for developing a service or product that uses the IP of the Standard.

There is a variance to the above which are typically called de-facto/semi standards which are defined as specifications which are accepted by its relatively widely spread usage.

So how can one make sure that a standard is a real Standard? One can review it from a “legal” perspective or one could just apply the following logic;

  1. First of all, a real Standard would bear the prefix of the organization who accredited the SDO. for example, the long description of the TIA-942 is ANSI/TIA-942 which means that ANSI is overseeing TIA as an SDO to ensure that whatever they develop is following due process. Just to be clear, ANSI does not validate the content of the standard as this rests with the SDO and their technical committee of SME's (Subject Matter Experts).  
  2. A real Standards (typically) has a numeral indicator e.g. ISO-9001, TIA-942
  3. A real Standard is a document which provides a clear description of all audit criterion

Coming back to the main question and based on the explanation provided I believe it is very clear, and nobody can even argue, that ANSI/TIA-942 is a real Standard. UTI-TST is not a Standard but a guideline. At best, and with a fair amount of imagination, you could consider calling it a de-facto standard but anything beyond that statement clearly is a misrepresentation of the facts and the intent as how WSC and its members would define and recognize an SDO and a Standard. 


Article 1 | Uptime vs. TIA-942: Introduction, why this series of articles?

Article 2 | Uptime vs. TIA-942: A short history

Article 3 | Uptime vs. TIA-942: Standard or guideline?

Article 4 | Uptime vs. TIA-942: What is within the scope?

Article 5 | Uptime vs. TIA-942: Outcome based or checklist or can it be both?

Article 6 | Uptime vs. TIA-942: Uptime certification is easy, ANSI/TIA-942 certification is difficult

More coming soon!
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