Interconnecting in a multi-vendor, multi-network, multi-service environment

The Centre of Excellence for interoperability in a multi-polar interconnected world

Interoperability is driven by market demand. It is crucial in a multi-vendor, multi-network and multi-service environment and is one of the reasons why we develop standards. It gives users much greater choice of products, and allows manufacturers to benefit from the economies of scale of a wider market. To achieve interoperable products and services, clean unambiguous standards need to be developed and followed. Interoperability is therefore a crucial factor in the success of modern technologies – especially in the introduction of new technologies.

ETSI's unique approach

ETSI has two important horizontal activities that support the production of interoperable standards, namely TC MTS (Methods for Testing and Specification) and the ETSI CTI (Centre for Testing and Interoperability). TC MTS creates standards related to testing and specification languages and provides frameworks, guidelines and methodologies for other ETSI committees. It works very closely with the ETSI Centre for Testing and Interoperability (CTI) to develop the background material which is then used in support of other ETSI committees as well as other relevant standardization bodies. Much of the work done by TC MTS has also been adapted and used globally by other organizations, fora, and industry bodies.

ETSI's CTI provides hands-on expertise and support to the ETSI Technical Organization and 3GPP for:

  • Standards validation (focusing on PlugtestsTM interoperability events)
  • Development of test specifications (conformance and interoperability)
  • Application of protocol specification techniques
  • Advancement of methodologies and best practices, including TTCN-3

ETSI is unique among Standards Development Organizations in having pioneered the combined use of these practices. As a result, we deliver interoperable standards of consistently high quality.

ETSI test specifications

For over 20 years ETSI has been a pioneer among the standardization bodies in recognizing the importance of achieving interoperability through testing. Many key ETSI technologies have an accompanying set of standardized test specifications that may be used by ETSI Members and others for in-house product development or industrial certification schemes.

ETSI test specifications are written using Testing and Test Control Notation Version 3 (TTCN-3). One of our biggest success stories, TTCN-3 is a standardized test specification language developed and maintained by ETSI's TC MTS and specifically designed for testing and certification. It has been in widespread use around the world for nearly 15 years. TTCN-3 is used in a variety of application domains and types of testing in industry, research, international projects and academia. The ETSI TTCN-3 standards have also been adopted by the ITU-T in the Z.160 series.

Validation through ETSI interoperability events

ETSI organizes interoperability events, or PlugtestsTM. These are a well-proven and cost-effective approach to validate standards for interoperability, through validating the interoperability of equipment based on the standards.

These events bring together engineers and equipment in a neutral environment where they can execute a large variety of real-life scenarios in various combinations.

Interoperability events provide an open forum for resolving issues of non-interoperability and other technical aspects related to standards development and validation. It is a place for engineers to meet in a very practical environment and to provide feedback to the standardization groups.

ETSI has organized over 200 Plugtests worldwide, covering well over 50 technologies. For more information please visit logo-Plugtests

Over the years, interoperability activities have been a feature of most ETSI committees:

  • 3GPP - Continued development of user equipment test specifications for use by GCF (Global Certification Forum), PTCRB (North America) and TDIA (China), and organization of a series of small cell interoperability events with the Small Cell Forum
  • AERO - A series of Plugtests with EUROCAE on VoIP for ATM (Air Traffic Management) to improve the robustness between Voice Communication Systems (VCS) as well as the interworking between VCS and Ground Radio Stations (GRS)
  • ATTM - A series of Plugtests with the Fixed Services and Networks Alliance on Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON)
  • BRAN - Development of conformance test specifications, interoperability test specifications and the organization of interoperability events with the WiMAX Forum
  • CABLE – development of test specifications and interoperability events for IPv6 Transitioning
  • CLOUD - Organization of GRID interoperability events and demonstrations with the Open Grid Forum (closed now)
  • DECT - Development of conformance test specifications for the DECT standards and more recently working with the DECT Forum on the organization of interoperability events for Cordless Advanced Technology- Internet and Quality interoperability events (CAT-iq)
  • eHealth - Participation in IHE (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise) CONNECTATHON events with the provision of state-of-the-art TTCN-3 test tools for HN7 profiles
  • ERM - Development of test specifications for PMR (Public Mobile Radio), DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) and the organization of several RFID Plugtests.
  • ESI - Development of an interoperability portal to facilitate remote interoperability events for standards XAdES, CAdES, PAdES (Advanced Electronic Signature) and ASiC
  • HF - Plugtests events for handsets from a user perspective
  • INT - Development of test specifications and organization of Plugtests for IMS (Internet Multi-media Subsystem) and RCS (Rich Communication Suite)
  • ITS - Development of test specifications and test frameworks, as well as interoperability events on Cooperative Mobile Systems and Road Toll Systems/DSRC co-existence
  • LI - Organization of interoperability events for Lawful Interception
  • M2M and IoT (related) – M2M interoperability demonstrations and CoAP and 6LowPAN interoperability events
  • MEC - Managing a Proof of Concept campaign
  • MSG – eCall interoperability events in partnership with ERTICO
  • MTS - Development of specification techniques including TTCN-3 and testing methodologies such as Automated Interoperability TestingNTECH - Development of test specifications for NGN
  • NFV – Managing a Proof of Concept campaign. Interoperability demonstrations and events.
  • oneM2M – Interoperability demonstrations
  • Open Source MANO - Establishing and managing an Open Source code development toolset and environment
  • PLT - Organization of co-existence testing events between PLT and ADSL (now closed)
  • SCP - Prototype testing tools and methodology for ePassport readers (jointly with MTS)
  • SmartM2M – Interoperability demonstrations
  • STQ - Organization of speech quality test events
  • TETRA - Development of test specifications (now TCCE - TETRA and Critical Communications Evolution)

Test specifications and frameworks

We develop conformance test specifications, including for our ITS and Smart M2M communications (TC SmartM2M) committees, oneM2M and the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPPTM). The oneM2M and the 3GPP test specifications will be used in third party certification schemes. We will maintain and evolve Testing and Test Control Notation version 3 (TTCN-3), and will develop further conformance test suites for TTCN-3 tools and the application of TDL.

Our Core Network and Interoperability Testing committee (TC INT) produces specifications to facilitate the implementation of IP-based networks that can carry both fixed and mobile services simultaneously, based on 3GPP specifications and the needs of industry.

Methods for Testing and Specification

Our Methods for Testing and Specification committee (TC MTS) plays a significant role in the market success of numerous technologies. We create standards for testing and specification languages and provide frameworks and methodologies to enable our other committees to produce documents that are easy to understand and easy to use. The main focus for TC MTS is to run the Test Description Language (TDL) Open Source Project, or TOP. This project is developing an integrated Open Source toolset for TDL for use by our committees, our Secretariat and external parties.

An Innovative Approach to Technical Quality and Interoperability

Our technical committees apply best working practices to ensure that our standards are well-specified and testable and thus provide a solid basis for the implementation of robust and interoperable products. Our Centre for Testing and Interoperability (CTI) supports our committees with hands-on expertise in standards validation.

We continue to make use of tools commonly used in software development for our test suite repositories, bug tracking and quality control, as part of our strategic move towards more agile specification and testing approaches. The CTI continues to provide practical daily support to our Open Source initiatives – our Open Source MANO group (ETSI OSM) and the Test Description Language (TDL) Open Source Project (TOP).

The popularity of Proof of Concept (PoC) demonstrations to facilitate early standardization activities and feedback is increasing. PoCs are being well used – with great success – by our Industry Specification Groups (ISGs) on Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) and Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) and by our Network Technologies committee (TC NTECH).

Plugtests events

Learn more about ETSI Plugtests events

PlugtestsTM are organized on a variety of subjects, depending on demand. They provide an opportunity for companies to interconnect prototype or production implementations of standards to test for interoperability and, where necessary, conformance to requirements. These events provide a highly cost-effective and practical way of identifying inconsistencies in either an implementation or the standard itself.