Testing, Interoperability and Technical Quality

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ETSI Approach to Testing


One main aim of standardization is to enable interoperability in a multi-vendor, multi-network, multi-service environment. Many ETSI Technical Bodies rely on the following three pillars of good practice to help realise interoperable standards:

  • Standards engineering
  • Validation 
  • Testing

This website gives an overview of these three pillars and information on how they can be applied to your own standards development.

The ETSI brochure Interoperability Best Practices gives more information on this approach.

Standards Engineering

Standards need to be designed for interoperability from the very beginning. Well-specified, unambiguous requirements can contribute to the overall technical quality of a standard, thus minimizing the potential of non-interoperable products.

The correct use of the ETSI drafting rules, the application of good protocol specification practices, the use of specification languages all go towards making a well-engineered standard.

The ETSI Guide to Writing World Class Standards gives guidance on how to achieve world class quality of ETSI deliverables.


Most standards are complex documents (or sets of documents) and, even when great care has been taken in the drafting stages, ambiguities, incompleteness and even errors will still occur.

Feedback from validation activities is a very good way to remove these inconsistencies and improve the overall quality of the documentation.

Validation should be interleaved with the evolution of the standard itself. The CTI works with the ETSI Technical Bodies to set up validation programs, such as interoperability events or Plugtests, to improve the quality of standards in an efficient and pragmatic way.

See how to plan and organize a Plugtest to validate your standards.


The development of standardized test specifications is an integral part of the ETSI strategy for ensuring interoperability. Much of the industry we serve recognizes, and places great importance in, the ability to test products and services in a standardized manner. For example, the use of ETSI conformance test specifications in the Global Certification Forum (GCF) certification of GSM and UMTS™ handsets guarantees interoperability of these terminals over the air interface. Read more...

Reflecting the principle: test the components first, then test the system, ETSI focuses on the development of two types of test specifications:

Like validation, the development of test specifications should be interleaved with the evolution of the standard itself. The CTI works with the ETSI Technical Bodies to set up test frameworks and to develop test specifications which, like any other standards, can be freely used by industry. However, the actual testing of a product is, for the most part, outside ETSI's responsibilities.