Standards Update: Metadata and Structured Cabling

David Meyer | Jun 01, 2020

Networking 450The standards world never sits still, even during major disruptions. The development and review of standards is typically done by expert working groups calling in to meetings from locations around the globe, so working remotely is already inherent to this process.

Of the dozens of fields of work that are ongoing, we’re continuing to track developments in infrastructure cabling standards, and also feel it’s important to shed some light on the mysteries and importance of metadata.


“Meta” means something that is referring to itself. Metadata can therefore be described as “data about data.” In the context of digital AV, metadata is the labelling and instruction sheet that lets a receiving device know what the AV data is and what to do with it.

A good example in video is the metadata used to describe HDR, including the HDR type, and the color and tone mapping profile that a display can then apply for optimal presentation. Standards for HDR are based primarily on SMPTE ST 2084 for static metadata, and ST 2094 for dynamic, the latter being able to change frame-by-frame. HDMI 2.0a and HDMI 2.1 then defined how to transport each of these respectively from source to display.

There are a few fascinating developments on the audio side of things. Audio metadata in HDMI carries info such as the type and reference standard for the audio format, and if it is multi-channel PCM, and whether it’s based on IEC, ITU, SMPTE, or CTA speaker layouts. But object-based audio cannot even exist without metadata. Everything about each object resides in metadata, including description, position, gain, correlation, and snap tolerance, among others. The cinematic standard for this is SMPTE ST 2098-1.

Regardless of the application, if metadata does not arrive intact, things won’t work as they should.

Another fascinating field is the proposed use of metadata to optimize audio depending on the listener’s environment. For example, imagine how different an audio track will sound in a quiet versus a noisy room. Locally processing to change the loudness and dynamic range can introduce unwanted artifacts, but metadata could manage the sound to maintain the quality and optimize the experience.

Regardless of the application, if metadata does not arrive intact, things won’t work as they should. Metadata can be likened to a good control system: Even the best AV system is useless to its user if they don’t know how to turn it on and use it.

Structured Cabling

In 2018, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) 570-D standard nominated Cat 6A as the minimum twisted pair cable grade to use in residential infrastructure cabling. This was a huge deal as the TIA is the very organization that specifies category cabling (except Cat 7/7A), and TIA-570-D effectively declared Cat 5e and Cat 6 as redundant.

Due to its offset in the standards review timeline, the equivalent commercial standard had yet to catch up to that of residential, but that’s now changed. The TIA-568.1-E Commercial Building Telecommunications Cabling standard was released in March 2020. As expected, this specifies the use of 2x Cat 6A cabling as the minimum grade to be deployed for wired networking and wireless access points.

This means that now all sectors of the market have superseded Cat 5e and Cat 6 cables. The use of Cat 6A or higher is recommended for all types of installations.

CEB Recommended Practices Update

The CEB28 HDMI System Design and Verification is nearing completion, and it’s been a big effort from the CEDIA/CTA R10 Working Group. But once complete there will be no rest as we launch straight into the revision of CEB23 Video Design, to complement the ongoing review of CEB22 Audio Design that is also progressing well.

We thank all contributors for their ongoing support with these efforts. Anyone interested in contributing should contact the CEDIA Technology and Standards department at standards@cedia.org.

About the author: David Meyer is CEDIA's technical research consultant.