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The Adoption of New Building Codes: The TIA-222-G

While broadcast towers are the tallest structures in North America, they are not the newest. Many towers predate the original Nintendo and have not been upgraded to the latest building standards or analyzed to the latest telecommunications code.

The last repacking initiative, which occurred over 10 years ago, marks the last time many broadcast towers were analyzed for code conformance. Since that time, the building codes in the United States have changed, with significant impact on the telecommunication industry in the adoption of TIA-222-G.

The Telecommunication Industry Association (TIA) is an organization of key players in the telecom industry who collaborate to implement standards maintaining a level of safety, quality, and consistency in tower maintenance, construction, analysis, and design.

During the last repacking initiative, the vast majority of jurisdictions in the United States referenced the 2006 or older IBC revisions. At that time, the newest version of the TIA standard being referenced by the 2006 IBC was TIA-222-F. Also during this time, the TIA was finishing a massive overhaul of these dated standards, publishing TIA-222-G which would be first referenced by the 2009 IBC.

Each state adopts new building code on their own adoption cycle. As states adopted their versions of the 2009 IBC, 2012 IBC, or the 2015 IBC, they became the applicable code for those jurisdictions, mandating tower code compliance for all structural updates post adoption.

The main changes are:

  • Different classifications of structures.
    • For the first time, towers with critical equipment would be required to withstand higher loading for extreme scenarios.
  • Consideration of Exposure Effects.
    • Wind loading dictates most tower design. With the addition of exposure categories, towers in open terrain are analyzed using ramped up wind speeds, particularly when located in coastal regions.
  • Consideration of Topographic Effects.
    • Towers are often located on high elevations to maximize coverage to surrounding areas. These higher elevations both reduce the tower’s shelter from wind gusts, and expose the tower to stronger winds. TIA-222-G takes this into consideration with the adoption of gust factors that increase based on topographic features and crest height.

In addition, TIA-222-G adopted much of the changes in the 2009 IBC, including:

  • Use of site specific wind speed and ice loading, using Ultimate wind speeds;
  • Use of LRFD steel design vs. ASD steel design;
  • Consideration of seismic requirements.

The most significant increase in loading will occur:

  • On mountains or hills;
  • In coastal areas of high wind speed, including Florida, the Gulf region, and the Eastern seaboard;
  • Near large bodies of water (Exposure D).

The impacts of these changes do not affect all towers equally. In a broad sense, Monopoles tend to fair best, Guyed towers tend to fair worse. It is expected that large broadcast towers previously analyzed and passing under TIA-222-F, will fail and require structural modifications to comply with TIA-222-G and the current building codes.

TIA-222-G also requires a site-specific Geotech and rigorous foundation analysis. Many of the older broadcast towers were designed to code which allowed for generic foundation and assumed soil parameters. Since most of these towers have also been around for decades, records for foundation design and geotechnical information is sparse, if existing at all.

Thus, as broadcasters prepare to analyze, many for the first time, their tower foundations, it will be critical that accurate geotechnical and foundation information be available for the engineering consultants. Where this information is unavailable, it will be imperative that engineering consultants have relationships with experienced geotechnical and foundation investigation firms to complete the necessary supplemental field services. In addition, the same code changes that impact the tower will impact the foundation capacities, and many may be found to be out of conformance.

Structural modifications to the foundations can purpose additional challenges to site layouts and lease agreements.

Additional Information

Timeline

Date Event
November 20, 2015 Pre-Auction Process Tutorial Available
(via Internet)
December 8, 2015 Reverse Auction Application Workshop
December 8, 2015; 12:00 noon ET Auction Application Filing Window Opens
January 12, 2016; 6:00 p.m. ET Auction Application Filing Window Deadline
February 29, 2016 Initial Commitments Tutorial (via Internet)
To Be Announced Bidding and Post-Auction Process Tutorial Available (via Internet)
March 11, 2016; 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. ET Workshop on Making an Initial Commitment
March 24, 2016; 10:00 a.m. ET Initial Commitment Preview Period Opens
March 28, 2016; 10:00 a.m. ET Initial Commitment Window Opens
March 29, 2016; 6:00 p.m. ET Initial Commitment Deadline
Three to four weeks after the initial commitment deadline Initial Clearing Target and Band Plan Announced
Specific date to be provided to each applicant that is qualified to bid by confidential status letter after the initial clearing target is announced Mock Auction(s)
Specific date to be provided to each applicant that is qualified to bid by confidential status letter after the initial clearing target is announced Bidding in the Clock Rounds Begins
Date Event
January 19, 2016 Pre-Auction Process Tutorial Available
January 27, 2016; 12:00 noon ET Auction Application Filing Window Opens
February 10, 2016; 6:00 p.m. ET Auction Application Filing Window Deadline
To Be Announced Bidding and Post-Auction Process Tutorial (via Internet)
Three to four weeks after the initial commitment deadline Initial Clearing Target and Band Plan Announced
By the deadline announced in the Upfront Payments PN; 6:00 p.m. ET Upfront Payments (via wire transfer)
To be announced in the Auction 1002 Qualified Bidders PN Clock and Assignment Phase Mock Auction
To be announced in the Auction 1002 Qualified Bidders PN Clock-Phase Auction Begins

The Repacking Process

February 25th, 2016

The adoption of new building codes: The TIA-222-G

Posted on Friday June 12, 2015

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Will the FCC repacking affect me?

The repacking will directly impact broadcast networks and affiliates whose channels must be reassigned to new spectrum. If a network’s station shifts to a new channel, their equipment will require upgrades. Broadcast tower owners will be indirectly impacted as their tenants swap out equipment.

2. What do I need to do to have my towers compliant?

Structurally, the tower will need new analysis for the upgraded equipment. Depending on when the last analysis occurred, the tower may be required to have modifications to be in conformance with updated code standards.