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ETSI - standards for business

By Karl Heinz Rosenbrock, Chief Executive Officer and Director General of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), and 3GPP Project Co-ordination Group Vice-Chairman

In my last piece for the InterComms publication, which was a text written in February 2003, I concentrated on the 3rd Generation Partnership Project standards and how ETSI and 3GPP are working with the ITU to produce the technical specifications that are the tools of system designers worldwide.

As I write this, we are at the end of 2003, the year that ETSI celebrated the 15th anniversary of its creation and I can say that during this period the Institute has continued to further its reputation throughout the globe. Experts from ETSI have travelled to all corners of the world to contribute to standards work. I am encouraged by this effort and I feel that it is well timed to encourage efficient market driven standards in Europe and beyond. In the same spirit, 4500 experts from ETSI Member companies have attended meetings at ETSI HQ in Sophia Antipolis, France to contribute to this years’ production of a staggering 2000 deliverables (Series: EN, TS, TR, ES, EG, etc).

However, there is an inescapable reality that faces all of us in the telecoms and the general communications industry: the recession continues to bite and ETSI is not exempt from the effects of it. After 13 years of considerable growth in membership, we are now at the end of 2003, the second successive year where we have seen a net loss of Members. Nearly 100 Members will leave ETSI this year owing to reorganization or financial and other difficulties. This negative development reflects the dramatic situation of our ICT industry. Others may follow, so that as we step into 2004 the membership will have lost in numerical terms a large portion of companies that joined as a result of the telecoms and dot.com expansion of the late 1990s.

In these circumstances, organizations must make a concerted effort to drive for efficiency. In ETSI we have made successful efforts to rationalize the Standards Making Process by improving the electronic tools used and encouraging more electronic working. An example of our success in this area is the decreases made in lead times, which has made ETSI into one of the fastest – if not the fastest – and most productive of the Standards Developing Organizations. For the past three years we have put the emphasis on cost reduction in ETSI. The staff of the Institute have accepted a pay freeze and a stop to recruitment. In the first quarter of 2004 we will re-organise the structure of the Secretariat of ETSI to allow us to concentrate on the key tasks and to give them priority in terms of resources. This is being done in cooperation with the staff and the membership. I am proud that we have been able to implement a stream lining of the Secretariat, but have up-held our social responsibility as an employer. We feel the pain, we are making changes, but we are a team.

ETSI can and must also help reduce the financial costs of participating in standards making. One way to do this is by hosting even more meetings on our own premises thus saving Member organization’s budgets from that burden. Another example is in the mobile standards area where ETSI Members have successfully set up European Friends of 3GPP. Now companies can share the costs of hosting the meetings of the project in Europe and there can be a coordinated approach to getting the best possible value for money. In 2003, 35 European Friends of 3GPP hosted meetings have been organised, for these meetings the average cost for delegates per night is €105 which represents considerable savings over meetings organised individually in the past.

We as an institute are also looking to support our partner organizations, by being available to host conferences and special events at ETSI. This policy has allowed such valuable events as the Testcom conference (IFIP), the Radio Solutions conference (LPRA) and the ETIS Global Security Conference to be held here during the year. The service has been offered freely to our partner organizations, which I believe has been a help to them in these times, while at the same time fostering closer relationships for the future benefit of our Members.

At ETSI we are planning for success and through our ETSI Strategy and Business Plan we have identified our Strengths and Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. This is more that an academic exercise, it is a means for our Members to reform and reenergize the ETSI Secretariat. The key focus for us in 2004 will again be our core business, that is, on the timely production and maintenance of high quality technical standards and other deliverables as required by the membership and the market.

We have been successful in producing good standards in the following areas:

  • Access technologies,
  • Fixed line technologies,
  • Third Generation Mobile (3G),
  • Radio technologies,
  • Next Generation Networks (NGN), and
  • Security, Testing, QoS, Human factors, etc.
There are opportunities in new work areas, too, and we must ensure that the emerging topics are given the appropriate level of support. These include:
  • Communications in case of emergencies (EMTEL),
  • Data interchange for billing,
  • ENUM (Electronic NUMbering -> telephone number mapping),
  • European Regulatory Framework requirements for Electronic Communications Networks and Services,
  • European Research and Development Projects (e.g. IST, FP6),
  • Evolution from existing networks to eNGN,
  • Home Networks,
  • Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) also known as Road Transport and Traffic Telematics (RTTT),
  • IP testing,
  • Quality of Service in IP networks,
  • Radio & Spectrum issues related to the World Radio Conference agenda,
  • Security and privacy throughout networks, and
  • Service enablers.
To finish my contribution on an optimistic note; I would like to predict that 2004 will see a steady improvement in the market conditions for telecoms and that this will feed through to increased optimism in the Research and Development area soon after. We have made sacrifices and changes in the way we work to survive a difficult period, but I feel sure that this effort will make us fit for purpose for the next period of growth and technological advance through our collaborative efforts.

Standardization means a larger and more productive market, and I am sure that the future is built through this type of good partnership.

For more information:
Please contact: Kevin Flynn, Kevin.Flynn@etsi.org
Or visit: www.etsi.org

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