OpenStand: A Platform for Global Interoperability

Lessons learned in the Internet’s development are fueling a transformation in standards.

Proven Practices, New Principles

The Internet operates, behaves, is used, and happens, by and large, in the same way from one market to the next around the globe. For example, no matter where you find yourself in the world, connecting to the Internet is a mostly simple and familiar experience. One of the primary reasons that this user experience is largely consistent is a widely adopted suite of underlying global standards and the wide interoperability that they have fostered.

Over the last three decades industry has invested heavily and consolidated around certain foundational Internet standards: IEEE 802® standards for physical device connectivity, routing protocols and standards for end-to-end global Internet interoperability from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), and browser standards from the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), among others. The standards were developed with a focus toward technical excellence and consumer demand, and were deployed through the collaboration of many participants from all around the world.

The results? A transformation in the ways the world accesses, uses and thinks about information has been unleashed. Whole new business models have been established. Billions of lives have been touched. And it has been an utterly market-driven, organic phenomenon with an impact across society.

So, in the wake of the Internet’s first decades of global development and influence on humanity, organizations responsible for its effective and efficient standardization processes came together to essentially codify them in principles extendible to other industries and technology areas that touch people’s lives. This is the origin of the OpenStand principles, and on Aug. 29, 2012, IEEE, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB), IETF, the Internet Society, and W3C announced that they had signed a statement affirming their importance and inviting other international standards organizations, governments, corporations, and technology innovators to show their support.

A modern paradigm for global, open standards is shaped by adherence to the following jointly developed principles:

  • Cooperation among standards organizations: The principles demand “respectful cooperation between standards organizations, whereby each respects the autonomy, integrity, processes, and intellectual property rules of the others.”
  • Adherence to due process, broad consensus, transparency, balance, and openness in standards development: For example, “Decisions are made with equity and fairness among participants ... Public comment periods are provided before final standards approval and adoption ... Standards processes are open to all interested and informed parties.”
  • Collective empowerment: The principles demand that standards “are chosen and defined based on technical merit, as judged by the contributed expertise of each participant; provide global interoperability, scalability, stability, and resiliency; enable global competition; serve as building blocks for further innovation; and contribute to the creation of global communities, benefiting humanity.”
  • Availability of standards to all: “Standards specifications are made accessible to all for implementation and deployment. Affirming standards organizations have defined procedures to develop specifications that can be implemented under fair terms …”
  • Voluntary adoption: “Standards are voluntarily adopted and success is determined by the market.” When companies are not mandated to conform to certain standards and can instead voluntarily, flexibly leverage the standards-based technologies that yield products and services that their customers actually want, constraints on innovation are lifted.

The principles are available in full at

Eliminating Duplicated Effort, Empowering the Market

The benefits of global standards are obvious. They include fostering interoperability, ultimately yielding better products at better prices for consumers and diminishing barriers to global markets for industry. One of the primary benefits of the OpenStand principles is that they are proven in their ability to help humanity more quickly realize the benefits of global standards.


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