How we work
ETSI's purpose is to produce and perform the maintenance of the technical standards and other deliverables which are required by its members (Article 2 of the ETSI Statutes - see ETSI Directives).
Like most standards organizations, much of this work is carried out in committees and working groups composed of technical experts from the Institute's member companies and organizations. These committees are often referred to as 'Technical Bodies' (TB), and typically meet between two and six times a year, in the ETSI premises or elsewhere. They also rely heavily on electronic communications to help progress the work, especially in-between meetings.
For certain urgent items of work, where this frequency of meeting is not sufficient, ETSI may also convene a Specialist Task Force (STF). STFs are small groups of technical experts usually seconded from ETSI members, to work intensively over a period of time, typically a few months, to accelerate the drafting work. Each STF reports to an ETSI technical body. In addition, ETSI provides a number of other services related to standardization, such as interoperability events (Plugtests™), Testing and interoperability related services and fora hosting.
The work of ETSI, including that of its Technical Bodies and Specialist Task Forces, is governed by theETSI Directives, a set of documents that define the legal status, purpose, scope, and functional aspects of the Institute. These Directives cover the entire lifecycle of ETSI's standards and other products, from inception, through drafting and approval, to publication, and then subsequent maintenance and finally, where necessary, withdrawal from public availability.
ETSI recognizes three types of Technical Body:
- Technical Committee
- ETSI Project
- ETSI Partnership Project.
Each may establish Working Groups if required.
A Technical Committee is a semi-permanent entity organized around a number of standardization activities addressing a specific technology area. The results of a Technical Committee's work may often be used by other Technical Committees.
An ETSI Project is similar to a Technical Committee but is established on the basis of a market sector requirement rather than on a basic technology, is therefore more self-contained, and has a defined duration.
An ETSI Partnership Project is an activity established when there is a need to co-operate with other organizations to achieve a standardization goal and where that co-operation cannot be accommodated within an ETSI Project or Technical Committee.
The Chairman of a Technical Body is nominated by the committee and is appointed by the ETSI Board. He or she is responsible for the overall management of the committee, its working groups and its work programme.
Representatives of Full and Associate Members have the right to participate in the work of a technical body and its working groups. Others may participate only under exceptional circumstances. Working documents are usually available only to members of ETSI, but the technical body's output of standards and reports, once approved, is made available in the public domain, free of charge.
The technical bodies are overseen by an Operational Co-ordination Group (OCG), comprising the technical bodies Chairmen, but they are ultimately accountable to the ETSI Board and General Assembly. The ETSI Secretariat provides a range of support services to the technical bodies.
Industry Specification Groups (ISGs)
Industry Specification Groups exist alongside the current Technical Organization supplementing the existing standards development process. An Industry Specification Group, supported by Working Groups where appropriate, is an activity organized around a set of ETSI work items addressing a specific technology area.
Work Items and deliverables
Each technical body establishes and maintains a work programme, consisting of Work Items. An ETSI Work Item is the description of a standardization task, and normally results in a single standard, report, or similar document. The technical body approves each Work Item, which is then formally adopted by the whole membership (via a web-based procedure). Collectively, the work programmes of all the technical bodies constitute the ETSI Work Programme.
A technical body usually gives responsibility for a Work Item to a small group of experts, led by a Rapporteur. The document (standard, report etc.) resulting from the Work Item is referred to as an ETSI Deliverable, which may be an:
- ETSI Technical Specification (TS)
- ETSI Technical Report (TR)
- ETSI Standard (ES)
- ETSI Guide (EG)
- European Standard (or European Norm, EN)
- ETSI Special Report (SR)
- ETSI Group Specification (GS)
The ability to produce these different types of documents allows ETSI to respond a variety of needs within the industries it serves. Very occasionally, the Work Item may not lead to any of the above types of deliverable, in which case it is called a Miscellaneous Item.
The Rapporteur Groups, Working Groups, and the technical committee as a whole carry out their work by electronic means, including e-mail, e-mail exploders and the ETSI server, as well as in physical meetings. The use of the electronic methods, both within and apart from physical meetings, has been found to dramatically increase the speed and efficiency of standards-making.
A technical body takes its decisions, including approval of draft Deliverables, either by simple consensus or by a weighted vote. Each Member company or organization has a voting weight determined by its membership fee, which in turn depends upon the company's financial turnover and other factors.
A proposition passes if at least 71% of the weighed votes cast are in favour.
In the case of ETSI Technical Specifications and ETSI Technical Reports, the technical body approves the Deliverable for publication. For other Deliverables, the technical body approves the Work Item result, which is then submitted to further levels of approval before publication: these depend on the type of Deliverable.
ETSI provides web-based applications to assist the voting process and the determination of the result.
An Industry Specification Group (ISG) may establish its own procedures for the creation and approval of Group Specifications, within the broad framework of the ETSI Directives.