What is 3GPP?

3GPP is at the centre of mobile communications, organising the standards for many of the mobile communications standards from GSM through UMTS and LTE to 5G .

The 3rd Generation Partnership Project more commonly known as 3GPP is an mobile communications industry collaboration that organises and manages the standards and development of mobile communications standards.

Initially 3GPP was set up to develop a specification to move on from the 2G system, Global System for Mobile Communications, GSM.

3GPP was initially set up in 1998, to develop the third generation UMTS mobile communications system. With that completed many years ago it manages these standards and a number of others beside.

3GPP scope

The scope of 3GPP has considerably increased since its first inception. Now it manages the standards for a variety of mobile communications systems. These include:

  • GSM and related 2G standards.
  • GSM related 2.5G standards including GPRS and EDGE
  • UMTS and related 3G standards including HSPA
  • LTE and related 4G standards
  • An evolved IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) developed in an access independent manner
  • The evolving 5G standards

3GPP location

Although 3GPP is effectively a summation of a large number of organisations, it does have a headquarters and some permanent staff.

The 3GPP support team which is more correctly known as the Mobile Competence Centre is located within the offices of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, ETSI which is Sophia-Antipolis, near Nice in Southern France.

3GPP organisational partners

3GPP has a set of what are termed organisational partners. These are essentially regional standards institutions.

These organisational partners determine the general policy and strategy of 3GPP as well as undertaking a number of other specific tasks.

3GPP Organizational Partners
Organization Originating region
ARIB Association of Radio Industries and Businesses Japan
ATIS Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions USA
CCSA China Communications Standards Association China
ETSI European Telecommunications Standards Institute Europe
TSDI Telecommunications Standards Development Society India India
TTA Telecommunications Technology Association Korea
TTC Telecommunication Technology Committee Japan

3GPP Market Representation Partners

In addition to the 3GPP Organizational Partners, there is also a set of 3GPP Market Representation Partners who can be invited by the Organizational Partners to take part in 3GPP activities.

The 3GPP Market Representation Partners provide a valuable service on topics including market consensus for requirements. With assembling and assessing the requirements being a major area of developing a new standard like 5G, looking at what is required is a very important element of the function of 3GPP.

However these 3GPP Market Representation Partners do not have the capability and authority to define or publish standards within the 3GPP scope.

These 3GPP Market Representation Partners include:

3GPP Market Representation Partners
IMS Forum
GSM Association
IPV6 Forum
UMTS Forum
4G Americas
TD SCDMA Industry Alliance
InfoCommunication Union
Small Cell Forum (formerly Femto Forum)
CDMA Development Group
Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI)
Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN)
TETRA and Critical Communications Association (TCCA)

By Ian Poole

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