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Standards, Conformity and Interoperability
The purpose of international standards is to ensure the interoperability of products both of same or different vendors. In order to increase the probability of interoperability the products undergo conformity assessment testing to standards carried out in test laboratories according to the criteria established in the ITU C&I Programme.
The ITU-T Conformity Database
The ITU-T created an informative, voluntary conformity database (coming soon) available to both ITU and non-ITU members. This tool will allow vendors to have more exposure and users to have a wider selection of products compliant with ITU-T Recommendations and with standards produced by Standards Development Organizations (SDOs), Forums and Consortia qualified as per Recommendation ITU-T A.5 or other Organizations having signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ITU.

SDOs, Forums and Consortia and other Organizations are encouraged to participate in the ITU-T conformity database activities and, by mutually sharing links , enrich its coverage referring to more recommendations and standards implemented in a product.
Interoperability and “ITU interop events”
Interoperability is part of the mission of ITU. Conformity to ITU standards does not imply interoperability of equipment, services and systems but would significantly increase the probability of interoperability. ITU is successfully organizing and facilitating a series of “ITU Interop events”. The topics include: Home Networking; VDSL2; GPON (Gigabit-capable Passive Optical Network), IPTV.
Capacity Building and regional test centres
ITU-T and ITU-D Secretariats (TSB and BDT respectively) are implementing human resources capacity building courses in the regions. These courses will be on conformity, interoperability and testing and will also be organized in cooperation with other relevant regional and international organizations. This activity is intended to facilitate the establishment of regional or sub regional conformity and interoperability test centers and to encourage Mutual Recognition Agreements/Arrangements as appropriate.

ITU-T and ITU-D Secretariats have produced a set of guidelines on building testing labs for conformance and interoperability of equipment and systems in developing countries. They will be available through the ITU Bookshop

The guidelines include the following topics: the process required for building testing labs; a site analysis (e.g. existing testing labs, knowhow); an economical analysis; financing and training opportunities; collaboration mechanisms; best practices; reference standards and ITU Recommendations.
Reference documentation:
Terms and definitions:
Some terms and definitions mainly used in the C&I environment are provided in the following for a common understanding. They are based on the terminology given in the standard ISO 17000 .
This is the process by which Testing Laboratories (Conformity Assessment Bodies) may be found compliant with international standards such as ISO/IEC 17025 on the basis of a voluntary, third party (Accreditation Body) reviewed process demonstrating its competence to carry out specific conformity assessment tasks.
Accreditation Body:
Authoritative Body that perform accreditation. Authority is generally derived from government. Accreditation bodies use ISO/IEC 17025 as the basis for recognizing the competence of laboratories for accreditation. Accreditation bodies themselves operate in accordance with ISO/IEC 17011 that specifies the general requirements for the assessment and accreditation of conformity assessment bodies and also for the peer assessment of accreditation bodies for mutual recognition arrangements.
Issue of a statement, based on a decision following review that fulfillment of specified requirements has been demonstrated
(third party attestation) process through which a third party organization grants recognition to a product that meets certain established requirements. This activity results in issuance of a “Certificate of Conformity”. A number of organisations provide voluntary certification schemes for specific areas of technology
Conformity assessment:
Processes that are used to demonstrate that a product (tangible) or a service or a management system or body meets specified requirements. Assessment may be conducted by 1st, 2nd or 3rd parties depending if the activities are performed by the vendor, the purchaser/user or by a party independent from the vendor and from the purchaser/user respectively.
First-party attestation
(Conformity Assessment Body) is an entity which, within its defined scope, is equipped and competent to test for conformance of a product or system to a specified set of requirements.
Mutual Recognition Agreements/Arrangements (MRAs):
Mutual Recognition Agreements/Arrangements are instruments employed between signatory parties (test labs) to recognize each other’s competence to carry out specified procedures within a defined scope, such as production of test results for purposes of certification, on behalf of the other party on a mutual basis. In practice a laboratory accredited by one signatory has equivalent competence to a laboratory accredited by the other signatories.
Multilateral Recognition Arrangements (MLAs):
The Multilateral Recognition Arrangements provide industry and its customers with a means to ensure that certificates of conformance issued by a body accredited by a member of the MLA in one country/economy will be accepted in other countries/economies. It also provides both acceptability and international credibility to a certificate issued under these arrangements.
Verification of the suitability, adequacy and effectiveness of selection and determination activities, and the results of these activities, with regard to fulfillment of specified requirements by an object of conformity assessment.
Capacity building
for testing and the possibility to establish regional and subregional test centres, especially in developing countries, are initiatives made with the assistance of the Development Sector of ITU and details can be found here.

Contact on conformity: conformity@itu.int 

Contact on interoperability: interop@itu.int 

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Updated: 2012-05-16