3GPP: Partnership for more effective mobile communications

Given the large number of standards-setting bodies around the world, it may be inevitable that even the most dedicated researcher occasionally comes across one he hasn't seen or heard of before.

The concept of a "Partnership Project" was pioneered by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) early in 1998 with the proposal to create the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), focusing on Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) technology. This is a collaboration agreement that brought together several telecommunications standards bodies to produce globally applicable technical specifications for a 3rd Generation Mobile System, as outlined in the International Telecommunication Union's (ITU) IMT-2000 initiative, covering high-speed, broadband and Internet Protocolbased mobile systems. These systems offer internetwork connections; feature and service transparency; seamless services, regardless of location; and global roaming. 3GPP was formed to work with evolving GSM core networks and the radio technologies they support. The scope of 3GPP was subsequently enlarged to include the maintenance and development of all GSM and follow-on specifications, including radio access technologies such as General Packet Radio Service and Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution.

Although the European ETSI and North American ANSI-41 communities met to consider a single collaboration effort for all ITU members, in the end it was decided to establish a sibling organization, called 3GPP2, based on bringing the U.S. and Asian CDMA networks up to IMT-2000 performance levels and standards with high-speed, broadband and IP-based mobile systems.

3GPP and 3GPP2 each have officially recognized standards organization members, or organizational partners. For 3GPP, they include the following:

  • ARIB: The Association of Radio Industries and Businesses (Japan)

  • CCSA: The China Communications Standards Association (China)

  • ETSI: The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (Europe)

  • TTA: The Telecommunications Technology Association (Korea)

  • TTC: The Telecommunications Technology Committee (Japan)

ETSI is not a 3GPP2 partner, but the Telecommunications Industry Association (North America) is.

More than just a standards body ...

And just to confuse the issue slightly further, 3GPP is also a valid name extension for audio and video files on both Macintosh and Windows, a format developed by 3GPP and 3GPP2 (the projects) for uniform delivery of rich multimedia over 3G mobile networks to the multimedia-enabled wireless devices. These graphics and audio formats are based on the MPEG-4 standard, which in turn was derived from Apple Computer Inc.'s QuickTime.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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