The development of wireless infrastructure standards

by Gessler, Fredrik

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis treats the development of wirelessinfrastructure standards resulting from co-operative research,development and standardisation efforts. It strives to identifykey influences on this development process, and toconceptualise the process itself. With this as a basis, it goeson to analyse potential implications for companies in thewireless industry, and for the role of co-operatively developedstandards in this field. The focus of the thesis is on thecreation of standards through development efforts, rather thanthe selection of standards in official forums, or by themarket.Two deep empirical studies provide the foundation of thethesis. The first one deals with the development of the DigitalEnhanced Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) standard. DECT isan open, de jure standard that was designed by a number oftelecommunications manufacturers. The standard was formallyapproved by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute(ETSI) in 1992. The second study treats the development ofThird Generation (3G) mobile infrastructure standards, withspecial focus on the radio interface standards such as WidebandCode Division Multiple Access (WCDMA). The development of thefamily of 3G standards today known as International MobileTelecommunications 2000 (IMT-2000) began more than 15 yearsago, and the first version of formally adopted air interfacestandards was released in 2000 by the Third GenerationPartnership Project (3GPP). The research and development goinginto the specification of the standards has involved all majorplayers in the wireless industry.The two studies have involved numerous interviews withindustry professionals, academics, regulators, and others. Inaddition, a multitude of technical reports and articles,meeting documents, press releases, etc., have been analysed toprovide good documentation of the development processes. Theempirical studies have also been complemented with extensiveliterature studies into the areas of technical development andstandardisation.Apart from two "thick descriptions" of importantdevelopments in the wireless industry, the main result of thethesis is a conceptual framework for how wirelessinfrastructure standards are developed. The frameworkdemonstrates that the development is influenced by thepre-history of the standard in terms of existing systems, aswell as research and development that had been pursued inrelevant fields. Furthermore it shows that preconceptions ofmarket needs and user behaviour are key aspects of the designof the standard. During the development process technologicalcontroversies tend to appear as a manifestation of differentcompetitive intentions among the involved players. In theresolution of these controversies, the stage is set for futurecompetition between suppliers of products adhering to thestandard.The pre-history of a standard, as well as the marketpreconceptions, originate in the semi-independent processes oftechnological development, and market diffusion, respectively.When the time frame of the conceptual framework is expanded,generations of standards following upon each other can beidentified. Each new generation incorporates new developments,and improved functionality and performance, but also builds onexisting solutions. The technical standards, such as DECT orWCDMA, act as wasp-like waists between the technologicaldevelopment and the market diffusion processes.The thesis shows that wireless infrastructure standards to agreat extent are created through technical development efforts.The processes also involve political, competitive, andregulatory deliberations, but technical content often definesthe form even for these debates. This points to the importanceof considering standards-setting in terms of a developmentprocess rather than as a set of formal decisions made by astandards body. A consequence of this is that companiesdesiring to influence the design of a particular standardshould strive to be in the forefront of research anddevelopment related to that standardisation effort. This is thekey to leading the development of new wireless infrastructurestandards.Key words:standards, de jure standards,standardisation, standards-development, competition,technological development, wireless communications, wirelessinfrastructures, telecommunications, WCDMA, DECT, IMT-2000,FPLMTS, 3G
Bibliographical Information:


School:Kungliga Tekniska högskolan

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:standards; standardisation; wireless communication; technologocial development; development process; DECT; WCDMA; 3G


Date of Publication:01/01/2002

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