The Telecom Consortia Alphabet Soup

By Glenn Seiler

What do they all mean and how are they different…

I often get asked what is the difference between the LiMo Foundation
and the Open Handset Alliance, or what is the difference between the
SCOPE Alliance Carrier Grade OS and Carrier Grade Linux or the
difference between SAF and OpenSAF on the infrastructure side of the
business. Unless you are really close to the Telecom industry in some
capacity that is directly involved with one of those organizations, it
can all seem very confusing as well as a bit redundant. In actuality
there is very little overlap and each organization fits a very specific
role in the ecosystem. First, it is important to note that both the
maturity and the objective of the consortia are quite different between
the terminal (or handset) side of the business and the infrastructure
side. Another key distinction is what I like to call “solutions-based”
consortia and “open standards” based consortia. Almost all of the
hand-set consortia getting hype in the press today are
“solutions-based” consortia such as the LiMo Foundation and the Open
Handset Alliance. These consortia are not focused on creating standards
that drive wide interoperability. Rather their objective is to drive a
specific solution to market and preferably, to gain a market advantage
while doing that. And on top of that, only members of the consortia
have access to the solution(s). These consortia are really more of a
large business development group, each member company focused on how
they can drive business through the consortia. Now, there is nothing
particularly wrong with that and it is an important part of growing a
nascent market, as long as you don’t confuse it with developing
standards. The infrastructure part of telecom is a bit more mature,
leveraging off of the wireline business that has existed for nearly a
century.  The primary objective of open-standards based
consortia in the infrastructure market is usually to define standards
that ultimately create an even playing field for all companies in a
market, whether they are members of the consortia or not. The
solutions-based consortia (LiMo and OHA) create implementations or
reference platforms for a specific set of software that may be open
source or proprietary and is usually a combination of both.

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