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Standards approval

The “Alternative Approval Process” (AAP) is a fast-track approval procedure that was developed to allow standards to be brought to market in the timeframe that industry now demands. This dramatic overhaul of standards-making by streamlining approval procedures was implemented in 2001 and is estimated to have cut the time involved in this critical aspect of the standardization process by 80 to 90 per cent. This means that an average standard which took around four years to approve and publish until the mid nineties, and two years until 1997, can now be approved in an average of two months, or as little as five weeks. The vast majority of standards are approved in this way. Only those that have regulatory implications are not, they use the what is called the traditional approval process (TAP). Besides streamlining the underlying procedures involved in the approval process, an important contributory factor to the use of AAP is electronic document handling. Once the approval process has begun the rest of the process can be completed electronically, in the vast majority of cases, with no further physical meetings. The introduction of AAP also formalizes public/private partnership in the approval process by providing equal opportunities for both Sector Members and Member States in the approval of technical standards.

Once the text of a draft Recommendation prepared by Study Group (SG) experts is considered mature, it is submitted for review to a SG or Working Party (WP) meeting. If agreed by the meeting it is given Consent. This means that the SG or WP has given its consent that the text is sufficiently mature to initiate a final review process leading to approval of the draft Recommendation. After this Consent has been achieved, the Director of ITU-T's secretariat, the Telecommunication Standardization Bureau (TSB), announces the start of the AAP procedure by posting the draft text to the ITU-T web site and calling for comments. This gives the opportunity for all members to review the text.

This phase, called Last Call, is a four-week period in which comments can be submitted by Member States and Sector Members. If no comments other than editorial corrections are received, the Recommendation is considered approved since no issues were identified that might need any further work. However, if there are any comments, the SG chairman, in consultation with TSB, sets up a comment resolution process by the concerned experts. The revised text is then posted on the web for an Additional Review period of three weeks.

Similar to the Last Call phase, in Additional Review the Recommendation is considered as approved if no comments are received. If comments are received, it is apparent that there are some issues that still need more work, and the draft text and all comments are sent to the next Study Group meeting for further discussion and possible approval.

After a Last Call in which comments were received, if the SG Chairman sees that there is insufficient time for comment resolution and an Additional Review period, the draft Recommendation and unresolved comments can be sent directly to the next meeting of the SG for resolution and agreement.