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International Networking Standards Organizations
The rise of open
standards not owned by any one company
has been a great boon to customers of computer and networking products,
as well as the manufacturers that sell to them. In order to facilitate
the development of open standards, however, organizations are needed
that will coordinate the creation and publishing of these documents.
Generally, these are non-profit organizations that specifically take
a neutral stance regarding technologies and work for the betterment
of the industry as a whole.
Here are some of the standards organizations
that you are likely to encounter when reading about networking and the
- International Organization for Standardization
(ISO): Probably the biggest standards organization in the world,
the ISO is really a federation of standards organizations from dozens
of nations. In the networking world, the ISO is best known for its OSI
Note: The shortened name of the International Organization for Standardization is indeed ISO, and not IOS as you might imagine. In fact, it is not an acronym at all. Since the full name of the body differs from one language to the next, any acronym for that name would differ as well. Instead, the organization chose the name ISO from the Greek word isos, meaning equal. Many people, especially in the United States, think ISO is short for International Standards Organization, but this is incorrect.
- American National Standards Institute (ANSI):
ANSI is the main organization responsible for coordinating and publishing
computer and information technology standards in the United States.
While they are commonly thought of as developing and maintaining standards,
they do neither. Instead, they oversee and accredit the organizations
that actually create the standards, qualifying them as Standards
Developing Organizations or SDOs. ANSI also publishes the
standards documents created by the SDOs, and serves as the United States'
representative to the ISO.
- Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC):
ITIC is a group of several dozen companies in the information technology
(computer) industry. ITIC is the SDO approved by ANSI to develop and
process standards related to many computer-related topics. It was formerly
known as the Computer and Business Equipment Manufacturers Association
- National Committee for Information Technology
(NCITS): A committee established by the ITIC to develop and maintain
standards related to the information technology world. NCITS was formerly
known by the name Accredited Standards Committee X3, Information
Technology, or more commonly, just X3. It maintains several
sub-committees that develop and maintain standards for various technical
- Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
(IEEE): The IEEE (pronounced eye-triple-ee) is a well-known
professional organization for those in the electrical or electronics
fields, including computers and networking. IEEE's main claim to fame
in the networking industry is the IEEE 802 Project, which encompasses
many popular networking technologies including Ethernet.
- Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA):
The EIA is an international industry association that is best known
for publishing electrical wiring and transmission standards.
- Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA):
The TIA is the communications sector of the EIA, and is responsible
for developing communications standards. Since communications, wiring
and transmission are all related, and since the TIA and EIA organizations
are also related, standards produced by the EIA or TIA are often labeled
with the combined prefixes EIA/TIA or TIA/EIA.
- International Telecommunication Union - Telecommunication
Standardization Sector (ITU-T): ITU-T is another large international
body that develops standards for the telecommunications industry. The
ITU-T was formerly named the International Telephone and Telegraph
Consultative Committee or CCITT (the abbreviation was of
the French version of the organization's name, Comité consultatif
international téléphonique et télégraphique.)
- European Telecommunications Standards Institute
(ETSI): An organization with members from dozens of countries both
within and outside Europe that is dedicated to developing telecommunications
standards for the European market (and elsewhere). ETSI is known for,
among other things, regulating the use of radio bandwidth in Europe
and developing standards such as HiperLAN.
This list represents some of the
more important organizations that are responsible for establishing and
publishing standards in the networking world. It is not an exhaustive
list, however. I should also point out that the set of related organizations
responsible for creating Internet standards is not shown in this list
as I have covered them in two dedicated topics on Internet
standards organizations and registration
I want to emphasize that many of
the organizations above do not actually develop the various standards.
Generally, these are oversight organizationshigh level management
if you willthat work with many other smaller groups who actually
develop the standards. Also, in many cases a particular standard may
be published by more than one standards organization, so it may be labeled
with more than one name.
Key Concept: There are a number of well-known international organizations that play an important role in the development of open networking standards. Some of the most important of these are ISO, ANSI, ITIC, IEEE, EIA/TIA, ITU-T and ETSI. These are oversight organizations, responsible for overall management of the standards development process, rather than for the particulars of creating individual standards.
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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