It has been a couple of years since I final mentioned how 3GPP contribution counting is a flawed apply and why it shouldn’t be used to judge an organization’s management in expertise improvements.
The important thing level is that 3GPP specs usually are not primarily based on the direct acceptance or rejection of particular person member contributions, however fairly the progressive and collaborative refinement of regularly accepted core ideas.
Technical Paperwork (TDocs) — written contributions to 3GPP conferences — usually are merely “famous” even when the ideas they suggest are accepted by the working group. This can be a very basic indisputable fact that some within the business have apparently missed. Different varieties of technical paperwork seize dialogue outcomes involving a number of corporations. At a later stage, usually after a 3GPP Launch is “frozen,” Change Requests (CRs) enhance the standard of specs, with solely a small subset of them introducing improvements. Merely counting contributions additionally fails to provide credit score to those who are constructing consensus and driving these core ideas towards the ultimate specs.
All through this weblog submit, we’ll confer with our earlier weblog submit on contribution counting, what modified in 3GPP since then, how 3GPP operates, and the way the more moderen development in “authorised contribution counting” can also be unreliable.
Making a expertise commonplace in 3GPP includes a posh, collaborative, and consensus-driven course of.
Taking motion to fight contribution counting
In recent times, it has been encouraging to see 3GPP’s acknowledgement of the problems stemming from contribution counting, which we referenced in earlier weblog posts. Specifically, it ended up being extensively seen that some member corporations have been artificially inflating the variety of their contributions, for instance, by splitting one technical contribution into a number of contributions. To mitigate such conduct, 3GPP management instituted countermeasures throughout completely different working teams. Since 2017, as an illustration, in 3GPP RAN1, every firm is proscribed to creating just one contribution per assembly agenda merchandise. In different phrases, a de-facto “contribution cap” exists, equal to the variety of distinct agenda objects. Different working teams later launched related guidelines. These new guidelines of engagement have been efficient and nearly put an finish to the phenomenon of inflated contribution numbers.
Nonetheless, outdoors 3GPP, the apply of counting contributions sadly saved evolving. For the remainder of this weblog submit, we’ll handle the brand new variants which have come to prominence in sure circles.
Contributions don’t inform the entire story
Earlier than we additional analyze how contribution counting has modified, it’s essential to know how technical specs are created inside 3GPP. I’ve beforehand talked about this in intensive element in my weblog sequence, however let me recap under:
- Sometimes, a bunch of corporations begins a brand new 3GPP challenge for a particular expertise space (e.g., 5G NR in unlicensed spectrum, 5G for drones, 5G for XR, and so forth.) by proposing a brand new Research Merchandise or a brand new Work Merchandise within the applicable group. That is normally pushed by both a acknowledged business want (e.g., enhance protection in sure conditions) or when an organization, or group of corporations, shares the end result of their early analysis and leads all the ecosystem down a brand new path.
- As soon as a challenge is authorised, both as a Research Merchandise or as a Work Merchandise, any 3GPP member firm can contribute concepts towards it.
- The 3GPP course of is such that each particular person element of the challenge is debated, mentioned, and determined individually, primarily based on technical benefit. This happens by way of face-to-face conferences, on-line conferences, offline discussions, and written contributions. For every challenge, there are a whole bunch, if not hundreds, of such micro-decisions. Importantly, these micro-decisions usually are not captured as “authorised” paperwork, as additional defined under.
- A specification editor, who can typically be the “rapporteur” of the challenge, or a so-called “characteristic lead,” captures the gathering of agreements from this huge variety of discussions and incorporates them first into a brief doc. In some unspecified time in the future in time, in sure working teams, agreements have been captured in paperwork referred to as “method ahead.” That is when some TDocs are literally “authorised,”
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