[opendtv] Re: NBC's Reitmeier to head ATSC board

  • From: "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2006 10:49:50 -0500

Craig Birkmaier wrote:

> Its just a game of musical chairs among the major interests with
> IP in the ATSC standard.

Even if this is the case, Craig, I'd say the ATSC has done a better job
than some other organizations. Check out this article on IEEE 802.20.
And remember that IEEE 802.15, specifically UWB, had exactly the same
problem. Interests out to protect their OFDM investment absolutely had
to apply it to a problem which is inherently unsuited to OFDM.

(I thought of 802.20 as being the packet-switched version of 3G
cellular. It was to provide ubiquitous broadband coverage in a cellular
network, originally at 3G rates, but optimized for IP use rather than
circuit-switched applications.)

Bert

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http://bmsmail3.ieee.org:80/u/4819/06082275

05 December 2006 08:00 AM (GMT -05:00)

(From The Institute print edition)
Standards Uproar Leads to Working Group Overhaul

BY KATHY KOWALENKO

The move this year to suspend the IEEE working group developing the
latest version of high-speed broadband Internet access was rare, but not
unprecedented. It forced the IEEE Standards Association's Standards
Board to take a hard look at who is on its working groups and to tighten
procedures to ensure that IEEE standards are developed in a fair and
open process.

The working group, IEEE 802.20, was formed in 2003 as an offshoot of the
IEEE 802.16 standard activity, often referred to as WiMax, the
technology enabling fixed wireless broadband access as an alternative to
cable and DSL. The proposed IEEE 802.20 standard would do that but with
a twist: it would support broadband wireless for laptop computers and
other devices used in fast-moving vehicles such as cars and trains.

Originally, the IEEE 802.16 working group wanted its standard to support
such mobile access as well. But some members didn't want to build the
feature on top of a standard created for a fixed application-hence the
emergence of IEEE 802.20.

Intel, Kyocera, Motorola, Qualcomm, and other giants with stakes in the
market all had representatives on the new working group, which numbered
roughly 175 people. Members of working groups are expected to vote as
individuals and not represent their companies' interests. But charges
flew from the very beginning that members' votes were driven by company
loyalties. A disputed 2003 election of officers for the group led to
allegations that consultants who had failed to disclose their
affiliations with major industry players had participated.

In the third quarter of 2005, individuals affiliated with Intel and
others feared that the group's decision to cut the technology submission
phase from six months to one month would not allow them sufficient time
to prepare their proposals. What's more, when they tried to get the
group to consider their proposals they were repeatedly voted down. By
last January, the working group had narrowed its deliberations to a
joint proposal from Qualcomm and Kyocera that could become a competitor
to IEEE 802.16e, in which several companies, including Intel, have a big
stake. IEEE 802.16e, an amendment to 802.16, addresses mobility and
calls for operation at just below 6 gigahertz, while 802.20 supports
access at bands around 3.5 GHz.

Employees of Intel and Motorola on the working group filed appeals with
the Standards Board, challenging the group's procedures. Qualcomm
officials in turn accused Intel of using procedural maneuvers to delay
the adoption of the standard.

CEASE AND DESIST In June, the Standards Board stepped in and suspended
all activities of the group until it could conclude its investigation,
citing "irregularities," as evidenced by the multiple appeals. In
September, after hearing from about 20 individuals, the Standards Board
concluded that additional steps had to be taken. Standards Board Chair
Steve Mills, an IEEE member, noted, "We believe there was the
possibility of [company] dominance in multiple forms, and the working
group was in a state where it was difficult to make progress because of
the interactions of the various players."

The Standards Board took drastic action to get 802.20 moving toward a
consensus: it removed the working group's top four officers in an effort
to "provide clearly neutral leadership and to eliminate perceptions of
possible bias." In October, the board named Life Member Arnold Greenspan
as the group's new chair. At the time this issue went to press, the
group's activities were set to resume on 12 November and the Standards
Board was seeking candidates for the remaining officer positions.

FAIR DISCLOSURE The board also tightened the requirement that members of
the working group disclose their affiliations with any company that
employs, pays for, or sponsors their participation in the group. In the
past, members were not required to state such ties so explicitly.

The IEEE 802 Executive Committee, a body that oversees the various IEEE
802 working groups, will work with the new chair and officers when they
take their positions to make sure that no single organization dominates
the standards-development process.

"The board doesn't have a problem with several people from one company
on a working group," Mills explains. "It only becomes a problem if
someone is being hurt as a result of that involvement. We aren't saying
companies can't have multiple people involved; what we're saying is that
they can't do it for the purpose of dominating the work." Members of a
working group each have a single vote, regardless of their affiliation.

In addition, the working group's ballot body was dissolved and will be
reconstituted by the group's new leadership. The ballot body is
responsible for voting on each draft of the standard before it goes to
the final approval stage, the sponsor ballot. Each vote determines how
close its members are to a consensus. If voting members disagree with
the document, their concerns have to be resolved and the document
revised. Members keep voting and revising the document until the draft
receives the required number of "yes" votes. The document then moves to
the sponsor ballot phase.

IEEE 802.20 has already gone through the first round of working group
balloting. Now it's up to the working group, under the guidance of its
new officers, to decide where in the process to resume its work.

How long the release of the IEEE 802.20 standard could be set back is
uncertain. The standard had been on track to be completed by the third
quarter of 2007. Now the completion date depends on whether the working
group decides to continue with the current version of the document or go
back to an earlier stage.

Mills notes that it wasn't clear that the process was indeed set back.
"We were going to have to consider the allegations of dominance and
irregularities at some point, because they were an indicator of a lack
of consensus," he says.

"If we had waited until the end of the process as it had been
proceeding, we might have had to start over from the beginning, and we
would have been doing that at a later date," he continues. "One of the
reasons for acting now was to try to avoid that kind of delay at the end
of the process."

WHAT WENT WRONG? Economic pressures impacted the working group right
from the start, according to Mills.

"It appears that problems emerged because there was enough interest in
the potential economic value of such a standard," he says.

Mills sees three factors at play when it comes to standards development:
technology, economics, and politics. Each factor can underscore the
others, and when they collide as happened with IEEE 802.20, problems
crop up. The Standards Board wants to mitigate those problems.

"In light of the growing economic and political stresses in today's
global standards-development environment," Mills says, "we are taking
additional steps to help ensure the standards process remains fair and
open while recognizing the desire of companies to be involved."

Those steps, which affect all the working groups, include tightening up
procedures to make it clearer what is expected of the working group,
identifying the working group members' affiliations, and ensuring that
no single organization dominates the process.

"The IEEE 802 brand has real commercial value," Mills concludes, "and we
want to protect the integrity of that brand."
 
 
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