ITU Blog: Improving the protection of ICT equipment against lightning strikes


Information and communication technologies (ICTs) pervade almost every aspect of our lives today with innovative devices enabling us to communicate anywhere and at any time. Yet, despite the extraordinary innovation seen in the industry in recent times, ICT devices, home networks and telecommunications equipment have become more vulnerable to the effects of lightning. This is due to more interconnections within the home and their connection to traditionally non-communications devices such as gas and water smart meters. Overvoltages due to lightning strikes to power lines and telecommunications cables can damage ICT equipment and adversely affect the availability and quality of services.

A new international standard aims to protect telecommunications equipment installed in customer premises from the effects of lightning strikes. The standard, Recommendation ITU-T K.98 “Overvoltage Protection Guide for telecommunications equipment installed in a customer premise” reached first-stage approval (‘consent’ in ITU parlance) on 29 July 2014. This standard focuses on ways in which telecommunications equipment installed in customer premises can be protected from damage due to lightning strikes to power and telecommunications lines/cables. It considers the impact of the different types of mains power distribution systems and determines the level of surge current available at customer premises due to direct strikes to these lines/cables.

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