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Table Of Contents  The TCP/IP Guide
 9  Networking Fundamentals
      9  Network Standards and Standards Organizations

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International Networking Standards Organizations
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Internet Standards Organizations (ISOC, IAB, IESG, IETF, IRSG, IRTF)
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Networking Industry Groups

As I explained in the previous topic, most open standards are coordinated and published by a small number of large, often international standards organizations. However, these are not the only groups of people who are involved in the development of standards for networking and Internet technologies. There are also many different networking industry groups that play an important role in the standard creation process.

Networking industry groups differ in a few ways from standards organizations.They are typically dedicated to the promotion of a specific technology, where standards organizations are more generic and handle the oversight of hundreds of different ones. Industry groups are also generally smaller than standards organizations, with members drawn primarily from the field of developers and manufacturers that create products for the particular technology the group promotes.

Perhaps most importantly, industry groups often actually write and maintain the standards, where standards organizations are generally more “supervisors” who ensure that the standards meet, well, the standards for the development of standards. Some industry groups, however, are concerned only with marketing and promotion activities.

Obviously, these industry groups work closely together with the standards organizations. In some cases, they may even be part of the same overall organization, and all of the different groups are related in some ways. For example, the IEEE 802 project consists of a number of working groups that are charged with maintaining and developing specific technology standards, which the larger IEEE organization approves and publishes.

One of these working groups is the 802.11 working group, which develops wireless Ethernet technology. At the same time that this group “does its thing”, there is an industry group called the Wireless Ethernet Compatibility Alliance (WECA). This group works to ensure the cross-vendor compatibility of 802.11b wireless networking hardware and software.

Other industry groups are formed specifically to develop independent standards that are not approved through a formal standardization process. Examples include groups such as HomePNA, IrDA and HomeRF. One of the problems with these groups is that they usually do not make their standards open to the public. This is undoubtedly due to some sort of security concern or desire to keep the “inner workings” of their technology “secret”.

Unfortunately for these groups, this policy harms the ability of regular people to learn about how their technologies work. For example, in writing this and other reference works, I am almost always unable to obtain specifications from most of the private industry groups. They either refuse to allow me to get the document at all, or want to charge me a great deal of money for the privilege (well into the thousands of dollars in some cases). In doing this, these groups harm their own cause, by making it more difficult for those interested in their technologies to learn about them. This is another key advantage of open standards managed by public organizations such as ANSI or the IEEE.


Previous Topic/Section
International Networking Standards Organizations
Previous Page
Pages in Current Topic/Section
1
Next Page
Internet Standards Organizations (ISOC, IAB, IESG, IETF, IRSG, IRTF)
Next Topic/Section

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