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General Public

Your perspective

All you ever wanted to know about IEC International Standards


You should find many answers to your questions in this section.


If you have a question and don’t find the answer, don’t hesitate to contact us


Wouldn’t it be better if companies decided which standards they need?

Actually, companies do decide which standards they need. IEC International Standards are created based on industry request.


In certain industries, companies have a tendency to develop their own standard. This is a choice, but it carries also enormous risk as we saw in battles between HD DVD and Blue Ray or earlier between VHS and Betamax.

Can a company or country add bias to an International Standard?

Companies can participate in the IEC standardization process through their NC. The NC normally represents all interests of that industry within the IEC. Of course, experts from a given company can try to introduce a given technology into a standard. However, bias or a bad technology will have no chance to stand up to the intense scrutiny an International Standard goes through. And even if the technology figures in the Standard, this doesn’t mean that the company is the only one who can deliver it.


Even if only one company were to participate in the standardization process in a given country, representatives of industry of all member countries have the chance to comment on the draft International Standard, whether they participate in the IEC or not. The process is open and transparent. All reasonable comments are taken on board. That’s why it is so important that as many companies as possible comment and participate. Finally any given country only represents a single vote in the process, no matter how big or small it is.

How can a company contribute to the development of standards without exposing its valuable IP (Intellectual Property)
to its competitors?

Standards lay fundamental frameworks; they can but not always do include IP.


If a company decides to share its IP via a standard (which doesn’t mean that they will be the sole provider of that technology) all patent issues are always clarified in the process of the standard development.

If International Standards are so vital why are they not mandatory by law?

Governments and regulators may use voluntary standards in their legislation. However, we believe that specialists should write the standards, not governments and regulators.

Are there standards that have been particularly difficult to craft?

It is difficult to draft standards for fast moving technologies where players have decided that the fastest possible market access is the core criteria. Companies in these industries often decide to go solo. The risk is high and history has shown that market adoption by consumers suffers due to a lack of trust, until one standard – not necessarily the best – is winning. In the end those new technologies take excessive time to achieve a broad adoption and markets develop slower than they should: everybody loses out.

How are we supposed to have standards in things like Smart Grids when half the world uses 110V, the other half 220V,
and everyone uses different electric sockets?

We haven’t been 100% successful in the past, but that’s exactly why we have to look forward and need to make certain that systems and devices are compatible and work together in the future and beyond borders. To achieve this, experts need to work together across the globe. Systems, even if they are seemingly separated geographically need to be compatible.