IEEE Standards Association

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Standards Association (IEEE-SA) is an organization within IEEE that develops global standards in a broad range of industries, including: power and energy, biomedical and health care, information technology and robotics, telecommunication and home automation, transportation, nanotechnology, information assurance, and many more.

Software development
Core activities
Paradigms and models
Methodologies and frameworks
Supporting disciplines
Standards and Bodies of Knowledge

IEEE-SA has developed standards for over a century, through a program that offers balance, openness, fair procedures, and consensus. Technical experts from all over the world participate in the development of IEEE standards.[1]

IEEE-SA is not a body formally authorized by any government, but rather a community. ISO, IEC and ITU are recognized international standards organizations. ISO members are national standards bodies such as American ANSI, German DIN or Japanese JISC. IEC members are so called National Committees, some of which are hosted by national standards bodies. These are not identical to ISO members. Both IEC and ISO develop International Standards that are consensus-based and follow the "one country one vote principle", representing broad industry needs. Their standards cannot be sponsored by individual companies or organizations.[2]

The 2017-2018 Standards Association President is Mr. Don Wright. He is the President of Standards Strategies, LLC and is the retired Director of Worldwide Standards for Lexmark International.


The standardization process

Each year, the IEEE-SA conducts over 200 standards ballots, a process by which proposed standards are voted upon for technical reliability and soundness. In 2017, IEEE had over 1100 active standards, with over 600 standards under development.[3]

One of the more notable are the IEEE 802 LAN/MAN group of standards, with the widely used computer networking standards for both wired (ethernet, aka IEEE 802.3) and wireless (IEEE 802.11 and IEEE 802.16) networks.

The IEEE standards development process can be broken down into seven basic steps:

  1. Securing Sponsorship: An IEEE-approved organization must sponsor a standard. A sponsoring organization is in charge of coordinating and supervising the standard development from inception to completion. The professional societies within IEEE serve as the natural sponsor for many standards.
  2. Requesting Project Authorization: To gain authorization for the standard a Project Authorization Request (PAR) is submitted to the IEEE-SA Standards Board. The New Standards Committee (NesCom) of the IEEE-SA Standards Board reviews the PAR and makes a recommendation to the Standards Board about whether to approve the PAR.
  3. Assembling a Working Group: After the PAR is approved, a working group of individuals affected by, or interested in, the standard is organized to develop the standard. IEEE-SA rules ensure that all Working Group meetings are open and that anyone has the right to attend and contribute to the meetings.
  4. Drafting the Standard: The Working Group prepares a draft of the proposed standard. Generally, the draft follows the IEEE Standards Style Manual that sets guidelines for the clauses and format of the standards document.
  5. Balloting: Once a draft of the standard is finalized in the Working Group, the draft is submitted for Balloting approval. The IEEE Standards Department sends an invitation-to-ballot to any individual who has expressed an interest in the subject matter of the standard. Anyone who responds positively to the invitation-to-ballot becomes a member of the balloting group, as long as the individual is an IEEE Standards Association member or has paid a balloting fee. The IEEE requires that a proposed draft of the standard receive a response rate of 75% (i.e., at least 75% of potential ballots are returned) and that, of the responding ballots, at least 75% approve the proposed draft of the standard. If the standard is not approved, the process returns to the drafting of the standard step in order to modify the standard document to gain approval of the balloting group.
  6. Review Committee: After getting 75% approval, the draft standard, along with the balloting comments, are submitted to the IEEE-SA Standards Board Review Committee (RevCom). The RevCom reviews the proposed draft of the standard against the IEEE-SA Standards Board Bylaws and the stipulations set forth in the IEEE-SA Standards Board Operations Manual. The RevCom then makes a recommendation about whether to approve the submitted draft of the standard document.
  7. Final Vote: Each member of the IEEE-SA Standards Board places a final vote on the submitted standard document. In some cases external members are invited to vote. It takes a majority vote of the Standards Board to gain final approval of the standard. In general, if the RevCom recommends approval, the Standards Board will vote to approve the standard.

The patent policy

Because the IEEE's standards often incorporate technologies that are covered by one or more patent claims, the IEEE-SA has developed and added to its governing bylaws a patent policy to ensure both that the implementers using the standard-essential patented technology in their standard-compliant products have access to that technology and that the patent holders that voluntarily contribute those technologies to the standard receive adequate compensation for the implementers' use.[4][5] An important part of the IEEE patent policy is the FRAND commitment, which is a voluntary contractual commitment signifying that a patent holder with patented technology that has been adopted into one of the IEEE's standards will accept as adequate compensation a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory royalty for third-party use of that technology.[6] Most standard-setting organizations have developed similar patent policies with similar commitments.[7]

In 2014, the IEEE-SA became the center of a large academic debate among economic and legal scholars when it appointed an ad hoc committee to recommend and subsequently draft amendments to the IEEE patent policy, to which the IEEE Board of Governors gave final approval in February 2015 and which went into effect in March 2015.[8] The IEEE said that the reason for the amendments was to increase the clarity of the patent policy and the obligations that the patent policy's FRAND commitment imposes on patent holders seeking to enforce their standard-essential patents.[9] One particularly controversial amendment was a provision that prohibited patent holders from seeking injunctions and exclusion orders (from the ITC) against infringers of standard-essential patents.

The Antitrust Division stated its support for the 2015 patent policy revisions in a business review letter that it issued in January 2015, upon request from the IEEE-SA. In the letter, the Antitrust Division said that the provisions would unambiguously produce net benefits for consumers with insignificant anticompetitive implications.[10] At least one commentator has criticized the Antitrust Division's legal and economic analysis put forth in its business review letter of the revisions, claiming that the Antitrust Division exaggerated the patent policy's procompetitive benefits and wrongly dismissed as unlikely some of its potential anticompetitive costs.[11]

The IEEE Get Program

The IEEE Get Program makes some standards publicly available for download: This program grants public access to view and download current individual standards at zero charges. On July 11, 2017, the IEEE Get Program moved to the IEEE Xplore digital library website and standards eligible for the program past that date will only be made available there. On September 1, 2017, the original website was decommissioned and remains, without further updates, to redirect visitors.[12][13][14]

Notable IEEE Standards committees and formats

IEEE 260Standard Letter Symbols for Units of Measurement, IEEE-260-1978 (now 260.1-2004)
IEEE 488Standard Digital Interface for Programmable Instrumentation, IEEE-488-1978 (now 488.1)
IEEE 610Standard Glossary of Software Engineering Terminology
IEEE 754Floating point arithmetic specifications
IEEE 802.1Standards for LAN/MAN bridging and management and remote media access control (MAC) bridging
IEEE 802.2Standards for Logical Link Control (LLC) standards for connectivity
IEEE 802.3Ethernet Standards for Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD)
IEEE 802.4Standards for token passing bus access
IEEE 802.5Standards for token ring access and for communications between LANs and MANs
IEEE 802.6Standards for information exchange between systems
IEEE 802.7Standards for broadband LAN cabling
IEEE 802.8Fiber-optic connection
IEEE 802.9Standards for integrated services, like voice and data
IEEE 802.10Standards for LAN/MAN security implementations
IEEE 802.11Wireless Networking  "WiFi"
IEEE 802.12Standards for demand priority access method
IEEE 802.14Standards for cable television broadband communications
IEEE 802.15.2Bluetooth and Wi-Fi coexistence mechanism
IEEE 802.15.4Wireless Sensor/Control Networks  "ZigBee"
IEEE 802.15.6Wireless Body Area Network[15] (BAN)  (e.g. Bluetooth low energy)
IEEE 802.16Wireless Networking  "WiMAX"
IEEE 802.24Standards for Logical Link Control (LLC) standards for connectivity
IEEE 828Configuration Management in Systems and Software Engineering
IEEE 829Software Test Documentation
IEEE 830Software Requirements Specifications
IEEE 896Futurebus
IEEE 1003Unix compatibility programming standard  POSIX
IEEE 1016Software Design Description
IEEE 1028Standard for Software Reviews and Audits
IEEE 1044.1Standard Classification for Software Anomalies
IEEE 1059Software Verification And Validation Plan
IEEE 1073Point of Care Medical Device Communication Standards
IEEE 1074Software Development Life Cycle
IEEE 1076VHDL  VHSIC Hardware Description Language
IEEE 1180Discrete cosine transform accuracy
IEEE 1233System Requirements Specification
IEEE 1275Open Firmware
IEEE 1284Parallel port
IEEE P1363Public key cryptography
IEEE 1364Verilog
IEEE 1394Serial bus  "FireWire", "i.Link"
IEEE 1471software architecture / system architecture
IEEE 1541Prefixes for Binary Multiples
IEEE 1584Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations
IEEE 1588Precision Time Protocol
IEEE P1619Security in Storage Working Group (SISWG)
IEEE 1666IEEE Standard for Standard SystemC Language Reference Manual
IEEE 1667Standard Protocol for Authentication in Host Attachments of Transient Storage Devices
IEEE 1800SystemVerilog
IEEE 1801Unified Power Format
IEEE 1849IEEE Standard for eXtensible Event Stream (XES) for Achieving Interoperability in Event Logs and Event Streams
IEEE 1855IEEE Standard for Fuzzy Markup Language
IEEE 1901Broadband over Power Line Networks
IEEE 1906.1Recommended Practice for Nanoscale and Molecular Communication Framework
IEEE 1914 Next Generation Fronthaul Interface Working Group
IEEE 1914.1 Standard for Packet-based Fronthaul Transport Networks
IEEE 1914.3 Standard for Radio Over Ethernet Encapsulations and Mappings
IEEE 2050 RTOS for embedded systems standard
IEEE 2600Hardcopy Device and System Security (and related ISO/IEC 15408 Protection Profiles)
IEEE 12207Information Technology  Software life-cycle processes
IEEE Switchgear CommitteeC37 series of standards for Low and High voltage equipment


The IEEE-SA recognizes outstanding standards development participation through various award categories.


  1. The Standards & the IEEE Standards Development Process section is based on information originally obtained from the IEEE and IEEE-SA websites, and the Appendix of the article "The Role of Market-Based and Committee-Based Standards," by Sanjiv Patel, Babson College 2002.
  2. Ulf-Daniel Ehlers, Jan Martin Pawlowski (2006). Handbook on quality and standardization in e-learning. ISBN 9783540327882. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
  3. IEEE-SA, IEEE Standards Association Announces Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) Standards Projects In Advance of Participation at Augmented World Expo, (May 9, 2017).
  4. J. Gregory Sidak, The Meaning of FRAND, Part II: Injunctions, 11 J. COMP. L. & ECON. 201, 211–12 (2015)
  5. "Meaning of FRAND Injunctions - Sidak - Criterion Economics".
  6. J. Gregory Sidak, The Meaning of FRAND, Part II: Injunctions, 11 J. COMP. L. & ECON. 201, 209–13 (2015)
  7. "ETSI IPR policy" (PDF).
  8. Deepa Sundararaman, Inside the IEEE's Important Changes to Patent Policy, LAW360 (Apr. 3, 2015)
  9. "Dorsey & Witney LLP" (PDF).
  10. "Response To Institute Of Electrical And Electronics Engineers, Incorporated - ATR - Department of Justice".
  11. J. Gregory Sidak, The Antitrust Division's Devaluation of Standard-Essential Patents, 104 GEO. L.J. ONLINE 48 (2015)
  12. "IEEE Get Program". IEEE Standards Association. Archived from the original on 2017-08-10.
  13. "IEEE Get Program". IEEE Xplore. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
  14. Goldberg, Jonathan (July 26, 2017). "IEEE Get Program Update". 802SEC (Mailing list). Retrieved 2017-11-08.
  15. "IEEE SA - 802.15.6-2012 - IEEE Standard for Local and metropolitan area networks - Part 15.6: Wireless Body Area Networks".
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