After more than a year of speculation concerning the possibility of a new Division 17 for telecommunications installations, the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) approved revisions to its MasterFormat specifications standard that include the elimination of Divisions 16 (electrical) and the creation of two new divisions (communications, and life safety and facility protection) that address the issues covered by the proposed Division 17. The revised standard will be published and take effect in late 2003.

The announcement brings to an end the debate over specifications for telecommunications wiring that had divided many in the electrical industry for nearly a year and a half. The new communications division addresses several topics in the proposed Division 17, but it does not use the exact structure or language submitted. The life safety and facility protection division will address some additional topics related to low-voltage systems, as well as some subject matter already covered in other locations in the current MasterFormat.

Although Division 16, which covered electrical specifications, was eliminated, its content will be included in a proposed group of new divisions containing expanded content. Existing Divisions 15 and 16 and new Divisions 17 through 20 will remain blank and act as placeholders for new divisions dedicated to topics that may arise in the future.

MasterFormat was last revised in 1995.