Monday, June 28, 2010

3GPP Standardization Body

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is a collaboration agreement that was established and formalized in December 1998. The collaboration agreement brings together a number of regional and national telecommunication standardization bodies which are known as "Organizational Partners". The current Organizational Partners are:
  • ARIB (Japan) - Association of Radio Industries and Businesses
  • ATIS (USA) - Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions
  • CCSA (China) - China Communications Standards Association
  • ETSI (Europe) - European Telecommunications Standards Institute
  • TTA (Korea) - Telecommunications Technology Association
  • TTC (Japan) - Telecommunication Technology Committee

The 3GPP Organizational Partners determine the general policy and strategy of 3GPP and perform tasks such as approval and maintenance of the 3GPP scope and the Partnership Project Description, taking decisions on the creation or cessation of Technical Specification Groups, and approving their scope and terms of reference, approval of Organizational Partner funding requirements, allocation of human and financial resources provided by the Organizational Partners to the Project Co-ordination Group, and acting as a body of appeal on procedural matters referred to them.

Along with the Organizational Partners, there are 12 Market Representation Partners (MRPs), i.e., IMS Forum, TD-SCMA Forum, GSA, GSM Association, IPv6 Forum, UMTS Forum, 3G Americans, TD-SCMA Industry Alliance, Info Communication Union, Femto Forum, CDMA Development Group, and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), which provide for the maintenance of the Partnership Project Agreement and the approval of applications for 3GPP partnership.

Then, 3GPP currently has three observers which are Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) who have the qualifications to become future Organizational Partners:

  • TIA (USA) - Telecommunications Industries Association
  • ISACC (Canada) - ICT Standards Advisory Council of Canada
  • Communications Alliance - former Australian Communications Industry Forum (ACIF)

Along with the above partners there are more than 350 individual members. All entities registered as members of an Organizational Partner and eligible for participation in the technical work of that Organizational Partner can become Individual Members of 3GPP if they are committed to support 3GPP and to contribute technically or otherwise to one or more of the Technical Specification Groups (TSGs) within the 3GPP scope. An Individual Member has the right to participate in the work of 3GPP by attending meetings of the TSGs and subtending groups.

Scope and objectives of 3GPP

3GPP shall prepare, approve and maintain the necessary set of Technical Specifications and Technical Reports for the Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) including GSM evolved radio access technologies (e.g. General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) and Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE)).

Furthermore, 3GPP shall prepare, approve and maintain the necessary set of Technical Specifications and Technical Reports for an evolved 3rd Generation and beyond Mobile System including:

  • Evolved UTRAN and beyond (including UTRA in Frequency Division Duplex (FDD) and Time Division Duplex (TDD) modes);
  • 3GPP Core Network and evolutions (Third Generation networking capabilities originally evolved from GSM. These capabilities include mobility management, global roaming, and utilization of relevant Internet Protocols);
  • Terminals for access to the above (including specifications for a UIM);
  • An evolved IMS developed in an access independent manner;
  • System and service aspects.

Finally, 3GPP shall also consider the long term evolution. The results of the 3GPP work shall form the basis of member contributions to the ITU in accordance with existing procedures. In the framework of agreed relationships, the 3GPP Technical Specifications and Technical Reports will form the basis of standards, or parts of standards, of the Organizational Partners.

Structure of 3GPP

3GPP consists of a Project Co-ordination Group (PCG) and Technical Specification Groups (TSGs). The PCG is the highest decision making body in 3GPP, it meets formally every six months to carry out the final adoption of 3GPP TSG work items, to ratify election results and the resources committed to 3GPP. Each TSG has the responsibility to prepare, approve and maintain the specifications within its terms of reference, may organize their work in Working Groups (WGs) and liaise with other groups as appropriate. The TSGs report to the PCG. Figure 7 depicts the structure of 3GPP.

Figure 6: structure of 3GPP

Support Organizations

3GPP enjoys the help from certain support organizations that help to define the standards. Next generation mobile networks (NGMN) and LTE/SAE trial initiative (LTSI) are such organizations. Various vendors and operators have come together to facilitate the LTE standard setting by providing recommendations and providing feedback by knowledge gathered during trials.

- Next Generation Mobile Network (NGMN) alliance

NGMN is an alliance of major service providers who are also early adopters of mobile communication technology. Several operators (Sprint Nextel, China Mobile, Vodafone, Orange, T-Mobile International, KPN Mobile, and NTT DoCoMo) formed the alliance in September 2006. Subsequently, NGMN defined the high-level requirements for all next generation broadband wireless networks – not just LTE. This type of initiative is one of the key differences between LTE and its predecessors, which were primarily vendor driven technologies. The NGMN alliance’s mandate is to complement and support the work within standardization bodies by providing a coherent view of what the operator community is going to require in the decade beyond 2010. NGMN has provided 3GPP with recommendations on optimized networks, self organized networks and higher performance networks. These recommendations, which LTE has been developed around, are incorporated into the standards. Another interest of NGMN is to further the mobile ecosystem.

One of the benefits of NGMN is that service providers have buy-in throughout the standardization process. As a result, they will be more comfortable with the standards when they are completed and LTE will be optimized for operators.

In addition to a service providers’ role as NGMN members, various types of vendors play the role of sponsors of NGMN alliance’s activities. Universities and non-industrial research institutes are also contributing to NGMN’s activities in their role of advisors to the alliance.

- LTE/SAE Trial Initiative (LSTI)

LSTI is a global, collaborative technology trial initiative focused on accelerating the availability of commercial and interoperable LTE mobile broadband systems. Major vendors (Nortel, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Nokia and Nokia Siemens Networks) and operators (Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone) founded the initiative and have added more stakeholders (chipset vendors, operators and equipment vendors) since its inception. Vendors and operators began testing LTE early in the development process. The test results are shared with operators and 3GPP in an effort to improve the standards as the technology is being defined. Moreover, LSTI collaboration ensures that operators can rely on published results since they participate in the process. LSTI testing helps remove the hype from LTE and make the results more realistic. The efforts of NGMN and LSTI in conjunction with 3GPP are driving LTE to be a comprehensive technology with early interoperability testing and operator confidence. Objectives of LSTI include:

  • driving the industrialization of 3GPP LTE and SAE;
  • demonstrating the 3GPP LTE capabilities;
  • promoting 3GPP LTE to operators, vendors, analysts and regulators;
  • simplifying the technology with a full packet-based network and developing newer business models for service providers, vendors and operators;
  • evolving the 3GPP LTE standard with findings from the proof-of-concept and interoperability trials.

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