3GPP on the move to prevent the takeover by Apple and others | Light reading

The leading international standards body for 5G, 3GPP, is updating its voting rules to prevent Apple and other big companies from getting too much power.

According to Kevin Flynn, a spokesman for 3GPP, the group has already agreed to introduce a cap on the number of votes its corporate members can get. He said the new rules were approved earlier this month and will go into effect in the fall.

Flynn said the new rules would limit the total number of 3GPP votes of any corporate group to a maximum of 16. They would also limit the votes of any corporate group via a single “organizational partner” to a maximum of eight. She added that the organization “will require individual 3GPP members to self-declare whether they are part of a corporate group consistent with the definition.”

The goal, he explained in an email to Light Reading, is “to avoid any potential dominant voting power by any corporate group.”

The apple in the viewfinder

IAM, a publication that tracks the global patent licensing industry, reported on the matter earlier this month. The outlet noted that 3GPP members in the summer of 2022 noted that Apple’s individual members nearly doubled from about 17 to 33 in a short space of time.

(Source: Apple)

(Source: Apple)

“We have observed a new pattern of behavior that indicates that having many voting rights held by a group of closely related companies can be used to strongly influence future 3GPP decisions,” ATIS, a North American trade association, warned last year. focused on some telecommunications issues in the filings highlighted by IAM.

An executive familiar with how 3GPP works agreed that Apple’s increased voting power was the main reason the standards group moved to change its voting rules.

Beyond the apple

Some analysts who closely follow the 5G standard-setting process argued that Apple wasn’t the only reason for the change.

“It’s not just Apple, but many other companies, including traditional and Chinese ones, send many delegates to 3GPP meetings. These companies have the potential to influence the vote,” wrote Prakash Sangam, founder and director of Tantra Analyst, in response to questions from Light Reading. “All key positions in 3GPP are elected. So limiting the maximum number of votes per company limits the outsized influence of large corporations.”

Emil Olbrich, analyst at Signals Research Group, agrees. “3GPP is trying to address some concerns,” he wrote in response to questions from Light Reading. “There are many new features that have added to the growth in the number of companies participating, especially with NTN being such a big topic.”

The integration of non-terrestrial networks (NTN) such as satellite networks into terrestrial networks has been a major topic among 5G advocates.

But Olbrich added that diversified companies operating in chip, fiber, wireless and other technologies are also helping to drive the topic. The concern, he said, is that such companies could use their voting power to “change the course of what should/should happen.”

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— Mike Dano, editorial director, 5G and mobile strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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