Our technical work

The standards-making process

Our standards-making process has been refined over many years. One of the main aims of standardization is to enable interoperability in a multi-vendor, multi-network, multi-service environment. Our standards are therefore designed for interoperability from the very beginning. Testing is a key part of the standardization process. As a result, our standards are consistently of a very high quality and are adopted all over the world.

Approval processes vary according to the type of standard.

We have adopted an ‘open’ approach. This applies both to the way we create our standards and the way our members contribute.

  • We operate by direct participation – our members are not represented by a national delegation or other body. As such, our members (companies or organizations) choose for themselves what contributions and proposals to make.
  • We work by consensus – any member may voice an opinion. Large and small member companies work side by side, in partnership, to achieve the best possible standards.

Our technical groups

Our standardization work is carried out in different technical groups:

  • Technical Committee (TC)
  • ETSI Project (EP)
  • ETSI Partnership Project (EPP)
  • Industry Specification Group (ISG)
  • Software Development Groups (SDG)
  • Special Committee (SC)
  • Specialist Task Force (STF)

Technical Committees (TC)

Our technical committees each address various standardization activities in a specific technology area.

Our committees are coordinated by our Operational Coordination Group (OCG), which includes the chairs of all our technical committees. Ultimately the committees are accountable to the ETSI Board and the General Assembly.

  • Our members decide what work we do and we make it as easy as possible to start a new activity.
  • Each committee establishes and maintains a work programme, which is made up of individual items of work. Collectively, the work programmes of all our committees constitute the ETSI Work Programme.
  • Each ‘Work Item’ describes a specific standardization task and results in a single standard, report or other document. We produce different types of standards to meet industry needs.

ETSI Projects (EP)

Our ETSI Projects are similar to technical committees but are established to meet specific market sector needs. They are not centred on a basic technology. ETSI Projects last for as long as the market requirements exist.

ETSI Partnership Projects (EPP)

Our EPPs are established when there is a need to cooperate with other organizations to achieve a standardization goal. There are currently two partnership projects: the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP™) and oneM2M.

Industry Specification Groups (ISG)

Industry Specification Groups operate alongside our traditional standards-making committees in a specific technology area. They are designed to be quick and easy to set up. They provide an effective alternative to the creation of industry fora.

ISGs have considerable autonomy:

  • membership of an ISG may consist of both ETSI members and non-members (subject to certain conditions)
  • they have their own voting rules
  • they decide their own work programme
  • they produce Group Specifications (GSs) or Group Reports (GRs) to be published by ETSI
  • they draft and approve these specifications themselves

Software Development Groups (SDG)

ETSI’s Software Development Groups combine the best of ETSI’s standardization support with the tools and processes required for successful collaborative software development.

Developing software alongside standards can provide the following benefits:

  • Earlier validation of standards
  • Accelerated standardization process through faster and regular feedback
  • Improved quality of standards
  • Increased adoption of standards through availability of software and tools

All ETSI Software Development Groups (SDGs) feature a basic governance model derived from ETSI’s experience in open, transparent standards development, made flexible to cater for SDGs of all sizes. Each group maintains its own detailed working procedures and release management processes. Each ETSI SDG can choose a software license which is best suited to their needs, including Open Source licenses.

On an operational level, ETSI provides the required IT support and industry-standard tools. An ETSI-hosted Gitlab environment is available, together with a website, wiki, e-mail lists, conf-call and discussion channels for each group. Read more.

Special Committees (SC)

Our SCs address several activities related to standardization in a specific area. SCs handle coordination, the gathering of requirements and very specific support activities rather than drafting standards and specifications.

Task Forces

Our Specialist Task Forces (STFs) and Testing Task Forces (TTFs) are teams of highly skilled experts. They are brought together to perform specific technical work under the direction of one of our technical committees. This committee is responsible for approving the standards produced by the STF/TTF.

The task forces enable us to accelerate the standardization process in areas of strategic importance and in response to urgent market needs.

Management and oversight

The General Assembly is the highest decision-making authority in ETSI. The ETSI Board is the executive arm of the General Assembly and oversees our technical work.

Our Secretariat provides support to our members and the various committees that manage our work.

Our committee page provides an overview of our committees.

The ETSI Directives lay down how the different types of committee should operate.

The ETSI Directives

The ETSI Directives provide our framework and guidelines. They include information ranging from our legal status and purpose to detailed working procedures and the responsibilities of our various committees.

The ETSI Directives contain the following:

  • Statutes – the official description of ETSI, its purpose, legal status and overall structure
  • Rules of Procedure – a top-level description of the administration and operation of ETSI
  • Guidelines for the implementation of Annex 2 of the Rules of Procedure
  • Guide on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR Guide) – assistance in applying the ETSI IPR Policy
  • Guidelines for antitrust compliance (Antitrust Guidelines)
  • Board Working Procedures
  • Powers and Functions delegated to the Board
  • Financial Regulations
  • Terms of Reference of the Finance Committee (FC)
  • Terms of Reference of the Operational Coordination Group (OCG)
  • Rights and obligations for ETSI courtesy title holders, ETSI fellows and retired friends of ETSI
  • Technical Working Procedures – a detailed and very practical complement to the Rules of Procedure, addressing virtually all aspects of our work
  • Information Policy
  • ETSI Drafting Rules – a detailed and very practical set of rules for drafting our standards and other documents
  • History of the ETSI Directives

You can download the latest version of the ETSI Directives from our Member Portal.