Setting the standard at TIA

As technology continues to develop at a rapid pace in the telecommunications industry, the demand for technical standards has increased proportionately. This is reflected in the volume of standards and other technical publications produced by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA--Arlington, VA). In 1995, 47 documents were published. Halfway through 1996, the 1995 total had already been matched, and the accelerated pace is expected to continue.

Nov 1st, 1996

Shazia Azhar

Telecommunications Industry Association

As technology continues to develop at a rapid pace in the telecommunications industry, the demand for technical standards has increased proportionately. This is reflected in the volume of standards and other technical publications produced by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA--Arlington, VA). In 1995, 47 documents were published. Halfway through 1996, the 1995 total had already been matched, and the accelerated pace is expected to continue.

TIA engineering committees enable manufacturers, users and others in the industry to come together in a forum to develop standards. The standards-setting activity ensures that all materially interested parties are allowed to participate. In fact, TIA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ansi--New York, NY), which requires that the standards-setting process be fair and open, allowing all interested parties to have a voice.

Equal representation

TIA operating procedures for its engineering committees, which have been approved by ansi, guarantee that no segment of interested parties dominates the process and that no segment is left out. These procedures also ensure equal representation for both large and small companies with the policy of "one company, one vote." (Of the 47 standards documents published in 1995, 17 were American National Standards [ANSs].)

All proposed ANSs published by the TIA must first be circulated as a Standards Proposal (SP) ballot. SP ballots are open to comment and can be voted on by any company, regardless of its affiliation with TIA. Ansi also publishes a biweekly newsletter titled Standards Action, which announces all public ballots for standards in all industry sectors.

Presently, the average turnaround time for development of an ANS is 20 months at the TIA. The goal of the Standards and Technology Department is to reduce the cycle to 12 to 15 months. The development process for each project varies, depending upon the frequency of the committee meetings and the length of time it takes for the formulating group to produce a draft for SP balloting.

TIA standards secretariat staff has been attending engineering committee meetings in an effort to ensure that the committees are aware of the procedures set by the TIA and ansi. If the correct procedure is not followed, the publication of the document can be delayed.

The two main areas that are being examined by TIA`s standards secretariat to reduce the time for the standards development process are (1) the time from close of ballot to the time of submission of the document by the committee to the TIA and (2) the time from submission to the TIA, to the time of publication.

TIA has a reciprocal agreement with the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (etsi--Sophia Antipolis, France) to exchange draft documents. TIA engineering committees have incorporated portions of the etsi Global Systems Mobile (GSM) and Digital European Cordless Telecommunications (dect) standards into North American versions to be published this year. Also, TIA`s TR-41 committee is in the process of creating a joint publication with etsi.

To avoid the duplication of standards efforts, the TIA is working jointly with Committee T1 (Washington, DC) to publish a series of ANSs on personal communications services. In addition, the TIA has signed an agreement with the Electronic Industries Association (EIA--Arlington, VA) and the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (scte--Exton, PA) to work on joint standards in the future. TIA also has reciprocal standards agreements with the Canadian Standards Association (CSA--Toronto, ON).

Electronic distribution

As the engineering committees become more Internet-oriented, TIA is looking at methods of electronic distribution. The TIA Bulletin Board Service was upgraded in 1995 and is used by some committees to post draft documents and meeting reports. The possibility of distributing meeting reports and notices by e-mail is also being considered. Approximately 50% of the 1200 committee participants have provided the Standards and Technology Department with e-mail addresses, and an effort is being made to call the remaining individuals to request them.

The TIA Standards and Technology Department will continue to facilitate the creation of voluntary industry standards. Revisions of the Engineering Manual and Style Manual, as well as developing ways to handle the greater volume of standards activity, are some of its present goals.

Shazia Azhar is the standards secretariat at the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA--Arlington, VA). This article is developed from material presented in TIA`s Industry Pulse newsletter for July/August 1996.

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