Standardization is a framework of agreements for an industry to ensure the creation of well-performing systems, products, and services in accordance with set guidelines. And they’re used across a variety of industries, touching almost every part of our daily lives. For example, food safety standards help prevent food from being contaminated or otherwise unsafe to eat. IT security standards help keep sensitive information secure.
A prime example of the ‘network effect’
In the telecommunications field, standardization represents a collaborative process that is different from research and development (R&D) in most other fields, where companies and institutions keep all their technology protected and proprietary.
Because telecom companies like Ericsson bring their best insight and inventions to the table during the standardization process, they invest millions of dollars into R&D before a product is out in the field. And they rely on patent licensing to get fair and reasonable compensation for that investment. This, in turn, funds the next generation of telecom standards, accelerating the pace of development and creating a virtuous cycle of innovation.
The standardization process enables collaboration throughout the telecoms field as a whole. It allows the best ideas to surface and makes it possible for the technologies we depend on every day to exist and work together. Without cellular and connectivity standards, for example, an iPhone would just be an MP3 player. You wouldn’t be able to download a song to your smart speaker, or stream a football game on your phone, without standards. It’s that functionality that shows the value in the standards process.
“It’s a great example of the ‘network effect”, said Matteo Sabattini, Director of IP Policy for Ericsson. “If you have one phone, there’s a certain value in that. If that phone can connect to a group, that value goes up exponentially. With global standards, that phone can now connect to the whole world.”
Ericsson’s leadership in standardization
From 2G to 5G and beyond, Ericsson has been at the forefront of developing standards that meet the needs of consumers, various industries, and society as a whole. When it comes to bringing new generations to life, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. For instance, Ericsson’s researchers had a vision of what 5G could become as far back in 2010 and 2011, and worked for years to bring their vision to fruition along with other industry experts.
Ericsson’s global collaborations with others have been crucial in developing standards. The 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) is a consortium comprised of a number of standards organizations which work together to develop protocols for the mobile telecommunications industry. For instance, as an entirely new system with new use cases and cloud realizations, 5G needed a solid mechanism to offer lasting security at scale. As part of the 3GPP, Ericsson led a working group called SA3 to set these critical 5G standards.
For the good of society, the cycle of innovation must be protected
The pace of innovation, particularly when it comes to cellular technology, has somewhat opened the eyes of government officials regarding the importance of standards. But the system that drives that accelerated cycle must be protected. Any weakening of the patent system and denial of fair and reasonable royalties to inventors could break the cycle, disincentivizing companies from participating in standardization. This could lead to a system of siloed, proprietary technology and stagnated innovation.
Thanks to open mobile standards, people around the world can work smarter, connect easily, and enjoy reliable, cutting-edge technology. As we celebrate World Standards Day, we’re honored to play a role in shaping the standards that allow us to continue innovating as we now invest in 6G and beyond.
"A lot of the technology that we enjoy today exists because there was a decision made that we want the standard to be open,” said Sabattini. “It's good for society."