On Aligning the Properties of Standards with the Needs of Their Direct Users – Network Operators

On Aligning the Properties of Standards with the Needs of Their Direct Users – Network Operators

Krzysztof M. Brzeziński (Warsaw University of Technology, Poland)
Copyright: © 2010 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-946-5.ch005
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Network Operators (NOs) are the important stakeholders in standardization. For the ongoing development of their infrastructure and service portfolio, they directly use “external” telecommunications standards developed by the SDOs, and both produce and use the company standards, customarily referred to as Operator’s Technical Requirements (ORs). It is shown that the specific needs of NOs are not properly reflected in the current structure and contents of the external standards. As a consequence, the process of developing and using the ORs is costly and inefficient. This chapter presents an alternative, formalized methodology for ORs, called OpTeR. A part of this methodology is a lightweight semi-formal notation, which is amenable to handling by a computer support tool. The methodology makes explicit the nature of the current inadequacy of external standards, and allows for a “detour.” However, to achieve the optimum performance of the method, the authors propose that the external standards be extended with a new part, called Embedded Capability Relations, that would serve as a common base for ORs.
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In this study we focus on the important stakeholder in standardization, and a direct user of telecommunications standards – a Network Operator (NO). The Operator is constrained by the need for interoperability (and thus conformance to standards and regulations), his own existing infrastructure / service capability, and economic aspects. On the other hand, the Operator naturally aims at extending the range and quality of services, increasing the performance of his network, and generally - differentiating himself from the competition on a deregulated telecommunications market. The generic task of the Operator is thus the ongoing development of his infrastructure and service portfolio. The inherent part of this activity has always been the formulation of Operator's Requirements (ORs), which are a kind of technical company standards (Vries & Slob, 2006). The company ORs are related to the “external” standards issued by the diverse Standards Organizations: SDO (Standards Developing Organizations), SSO (Standards Setting Organizations), consortia, and industry fora (Schoechle, 2003), but are not selfsame.

Technical standards and the development trajectory (or a life-cycle) of technical artefacts are interrelated. The underlying idea of the product development process is to apply consecutive transformations to descriptions, towards a final outcome of the process – a product. Technical standards are used within the development process of the majority of complex technical systems to influence, guide and constrain the transformations, the descriptions being transformed, or both. This understanding is consistent with the well-known definition of a standard, formulated by ISO (ISO/IEC, 2004).

In the domain of ICT (Information and Communications Technology), a product standard normally contains a description of a certain aspect of a product. This description is usually referred to as a specification. In this context, the terms “standard” and “specification” are often used interchangeably (Robinson, 1999; Dickerson, 2007; Shapiro, Richards, Rinow, & Schoechle, 2001). In this sense, a standard is thus an entity that is being transformed. Its structure, level of detail and formality, completeness, internal consistency, modularity / granularity, notation (means of expression) – all these formal (i.e., concerned with the form) aspects are important for the process. A standard may have a form that is suitable, or unsuitable, for a transformation that is about to be applied. The subject who applies transformations, and thus is a direct user of a standard, is justified in expecting that his needs will be met.

A standard is also a technical artefact – a product of its own development cycle (Egyedi, 2002; Sherif, 2001; Vries, 2001b). In theory, the needs and expectations of the users of this product, if properly identified and expressed, should provide feedback to the development process, and eventually – bring a change to the characteristics of a standard, if these prove to be inadequate.

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