What is 3GPP? An overview

3GPP, 3rd Generation Partnership Project is the organisation that manages the cellular standards: GSM, 3G UMTS, LTE; and now 5G.

3GPP overview includes:
What is 3GPP     Standards/ Releases     3GPP groups    

3GPP, 3rd Generation Partnership Project is an industry collaboration that manages the standards for the on-going mobile communications systems.

The name implies that it was an organisation focussed in 3G UMTS technology, and this was how it started. Since its inception, 3GPP has also taken on the GSM standards as well as those for 4G LTE, and now 5G.

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

3GPP, 3rd Generation Partnership Project manages a variety of standards, and essentially it looks after the standards that have come out of GSM and UMTS. These include:

  • GSM and related 2G / 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
  • 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)

In order to represent industry and to have the ability to represent those developing further mobile communications standards, 3GPP needs to have links with many areas of industry. It takes representation from the major industry organisations as well as from the major companies developing the technology as well as user groups and the like.

At its inception, 3GPP was very European-centric, but over the years, 3GPP has grown in stature and recognition and is now recognised as the main body for the development of further mobile telecommunications standards as demonstrated by the fact that it is responsible for the 5G standards.

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