IEEE Standards Association

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

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 2019-2020 IEEE Standards Association President is Dr. Robert S. Fish. Dr. Fish is on the faculty of the Computer Science Department of Princeton University. He also is a member of the Board of Directors of the IEEE. The 2020 Chair of IEEE SA Standards Board (SASB) is David Hoffman. The 2020 Chair of IEEE SA Corporate Advisory Group (CAG) is Robby Simpson.

In March 2020, IEEE Standards Association Open - SA Open, (for open source software) announced Silone Bonewald as its new Executive Director.[3]


IEEE SA has two membership options that enable enhanced participation in IEEE SA activities, standards development, and governance. These are:

  1. Corporate Membership accommodates the needs of organizations of any size, enabling multi-stakeholder participation on corporate or “entity” standards development projects.
  2. Individual Membership is designed for independent professionals and others interested in participation in individual standards development projects.

At IEEE SA, participation is open to everyone. However, IEEE SA Individual or Corporate Members benefit from enhanced participation privileges. IEEE SA Members enjoy added benefits, including but not limited to the ability to hold working group positions, vote on standards, assume leadership positions in standards working groups and activities, and participate in elections for IEEE SA governing bodies. The IEEE has various related programs in addition to standards development, including Industry Connections, Registries, Conformity Assessment, Alliance Management Services, and IEEE SA Open (for open source).


The standardization process[edit]

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 2020, IEEE had over 1,200 active standards, with over 650 standards under development.

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, IEEE 1547 Standard for Interconnecting Distributed Resources with Electric Power Systems, and ISO/IEEE 11073 Standards for Health Informatics.

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

  1. Initiating the Project: An IEEE SA Standards Board approved standards committee must oversee a standard project. The Standards Committee provides oversight for the standard from inception to completion. The standards committees are supported by the technical societies within IEEE. 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.
  2. Mobilizing the 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Balloting the Standard: 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.
  5. Gaining Final Approval: 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. Each member of the IEEE SA Standards Board places a final vote on the submitted standard document. It takes a majority vote of the Standards Board to gain final approval of the standard.
  6. Maintaining the Standard: A standard has a validity period of ten years from the date of IEEE SA Standards Board approval. Amendments that offer minor revisions or extensions to the standard, and corrigenda that makes corrections to the standard can be developed and balloted, but the creation of amendments and corrigenda does not affect the ten-year validity rule. At the end of this period, one of two things has to happen: revision or withdrawal. If no action is taken, the standard will be moved to inactive-reserved status. Sometimes a standard may need a technical or editorial correction to be made. As part of the standards development process, IEEE can accommodate this by issuing a corrigenda or errata Sheet.

The patent policy[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

IEEE 255 Standard Letter Symbols for Semiconductor Devices, IEEE-255-1963
IEEE 260 Standard Letter Symbols for Units of Measurement, IEEE-260-1978 (now 260.1-2004)
IEEE 488 Standard Digital Interface for Programmable Instrumentation, IEEE-488-1978 (now 488.1)
IEEE 610 Standard Glossary of Software Engineering Terminology
IEEE 754 Floating point arithmetic specifications
IEEE 802.1 Standards for LAN/MAN bridging and management and remote media access control (MAC) bridging
IEEE 802.2 Standards for Logical Link Control (LLC) standards for connectivity
IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Standards for Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD)
IEEE 802.4 Standards for token passing bus access
IEEE 802.5 Standards for token ring access and for communications between LANs and MANs
IEEE 802.6 Standards for information exchange between systems
IEEE 802.7 Standards for broadband LAN cabling
IEEE 802.8 Fiber-optic connection
IEEE 802.9 Standards for integrated services, like voice.
IEEE 802.10 Standards for LAN/MAN security implementations
IEEE 802.11 Wireless Networking – "WiFi"
IEEE 802.12 Standards for demand priority access method
IEEE 802.14 Standards for cable television broadband communications
IEEE 802.15.2 Bluetooth and Wi-Fi coexistence mechanism
IEEE 802.15.4 Wireless Sensor/Control Networks – "ZigBee"
IEEE 802.15.6 Wireless Body Area Network[15] (BAN) – (e.g. Bluetooth low energy)
IEEE 802.16 Wireless Networking – "WiMAX"
IEEE 802.24 Standards for Logical Link Control (LLC) standards for connectivity
IEEE 828 Configuration Management in Systems and Software Engineering
IEEE 829 Software Test Documentation
IEEE 830 Software Requirements Specifications
IEEE 854 Standard for Radix-Independent Floating-Point Arithmetic, IEEE-854-1987 (replaced by IEEE-754-2008 and newer)
IEEE 896 Futurebus
IEEE 1003 Unix compatibility programming standard – POSIX
IEEE 1016 Software Design Description
IEEE 1028 Standard for Software Reviews and Audits
IEEE 1044.1 Standard Classification for Software Anomalies
IEEE 1059 Software Verification And Validation Plan
IEEE 1073 Point of Care Medical Device Communication Standards
IEEE 1074 Software Development Life Cycle
IEEE 1076 VHDL – VHSIC Hardware Description Language
IEEE 1149.1 JTAG
IEEE 1180 Discrete cosine transform accuracy
IEEE 1233 System Requirements Specification
IEEE 1275 Open Firmware
IEEE 1284 Parallel port
IEEE P1363 Public key cryptography
IEEE 1364 Verilog
IEEE 1394 Serial bus – "FireWire", "i.Link"
IEEE 1471 software architecture / system architecture
IEEE 1541 Prefixes for Binary Multiples
IEEE 1584 Guide for Performing Arc Flash Hazard Calculations
IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol
IEEE P1619 Security in Storage Working Group (SISWG)
IEEE 1666 IEEE Standard for Standard SystemC Language Reference Manual
IEEE 1667 Standard Protocol for Authentication in Host Attachments of Transient Storage Devices
IEEE 1800 SystemVerilog
IEEE 1801 Unified Power Format
IEEE 1849 IEEE Standard for eXtensible Event Stream (XES) for Achieving Interoperability in Event Logs and Event Streams
IEEE 1855 IEEE Standard for Fuzzy Markup Language
IEEE 1901 Broadband over Power Line Networks
IEEE 1906.1 Recommended 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 2600 Hardcopy Device and System Security (and related ISO/IEC 15408 Protection Profiles)
IEEE 12207 Information Technology – Software life-cycle processes
IEEE Switchgear Committee C37 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. ^ "Silona Bonewald Joins IEEE SA Open as First Executive Director". 2020-03-04. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  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".

External links[edit]