The European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) produces standards with a global perspective in the field of information and communication technologies (ICT). OFCOM monitors this work closely and even participates in some areas. The standards produced are decisive for the future of the technology field and may therefore represent an important regulatory basis or be used to develop the strategy for evolving towards a digital society in the European Union (EU), as well as in the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). They are thus also applied in Switzerland.

ETSI - one of the three official standardisation bodies of the EU and EFTA - represents an important partner for OFCOM. Indeed, it creates standards - often based on industry proposals - which provide the foundations for future fixed and mobile telecommunication products and services for telephony, broadcasting and data transmission. It is also mandated by the authorities to develop standards and studies regarding ICT. The results of its work are often coordinated at the global level with the ITU and are referenced during the development of regulatory systems in the European countries, including Switzerland. OFCOM's involvement as a representative of the Administration makes it possible

  • to understand and take part in the ICT "revolution",
  • to analyse and clarify the statutory framework of the industry in Europe and at the global level,
  • to take part in the development and the adoption of central standards for European policy and regulation.

Experts from OFCOM (as a full "administration" category member) take part in the activities relevant to Switzerland, such as those regarding

  • aspects of electromagnetic compatibility and spectrum management (directly related to European and Swiss regulation),
  • access technologies for mobile (GSM, UMTS, LTE), fixed (PSTN, ISDN, DSL, DOCSIS, IPCablecom, WLL, PLC) and satellite services,
  • media broadcast and content distribution systems (in collaboration with the EBU and CEN/CENELEC, e.g. DVB-S/-T/-C, DAB, HBBTV),
  • 5G and other "next generation" systems,
  • emergency telecommunication and civil alarm systems (EMTEL),
  • service quality and security,
  • topics related to the information society.

Many ETSI publications are used on the market without the intervention of the authorities. Even when they are not referenced in official documents, they represent invaluable tools for experts from national authorities, including OFCOM.

OFCOM also takes part in the meetings of the Swiss national standardisation organisation (Swiss Telecommunications Association - ASUT, CS4), which represents Switzerland as a country and which has repeatedly succeeded in ensuring the election of a Swiss representative to the ETSI board.

In addition to the production of standards, the organisation also creates specifications, technical reports and guides for products, services and interfaces. ETSI also has a comprehensive portfolio of partnership agreements with organisations essential for the evolution of ICT technologies and for evolving towards a "digital society".

ETSI is the most important observation and discussion point for understanding technical progress and the development of the ICT market in Europe. Technological evolution in this sector, now widely recognised as one of most important for the organisation and development of society, has led to lower prices, increased technology penetration and a broader range of products and services. This development is taking place at an increasingly global level. A lack of coordination with neighbouring countries or an insufficient understanding of the implications of these new technologies would represent a risk for citizens, administrations and legitimate national interests.

What is a standard?

A standard describes the technical and functional characteristics of products or services, or specifies interfaces with other products or services with which these must interact. These standards are technical specifications of new system architectures, modules and interactions between these modules. This promotes the development of important synergies, the complementarity of various partners and a more transparent collaboration between them.

Standardization work is generally initiated at the request of the industry. The documents produced (specifications, standards, technical reports or system guides, products and services, as well as their implementation or testing) are not necessarily mandatory. Their content may, however, be used as a basis for developing or adapting a country's regulatory framework. These publications may therefore be referenced in official documents.

Specialist staff
Last modification 30.08.2018

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