Better understanding the standards of our mobile phones

With each passing day, our phones and devices become more and more essential items. This is not only because of their ability to increase productivity (when used with this purpose in mind), but also because of the convenience they offer for living in a more connected world. One of the relevant elements is that, no matter what brand a phone is, it allows us to connect to various networks and other devices without this becoming a major concern.  

This is not only related, for example, to devices such as hearing aids or smartphones, it also has to do with broader standards - such as GSM, Wi-Fi or LAN - which are responsible for much of the connectivity. Our connected modernity would not be possible without the collaboration of many brands and manufacturers in the development of the open standards that dictate many of the guidelines that must be included in each device.  

What is an open standard? 

To understand this, we have to start at the beginning. In the world of technology, a standard is a norm or requirement created for the purpose of performing a technical task. In turn, this task brings with it guidelines, rules or recommendations so that the standard is always maintained and operability is ensured. In an example outside of technology, let's think of McDonalds fries. These potatoes must have certain properties, the oil must be at a specific temperature, they must be fried for the same time, and the same packaging must be used; All of this conforms to the standard for McDonalds fries. 

Now, in the world of technology there are standards that are closed or private and others that are open. An example of a closed standard is, for example, Apple's Lightning port, which only Apple and close allies have access to. On the other hand, an open standard is like USB, whose guidelines and guides are public and can be implemented by any manufacturer in the process of creating a smartphone or other device.  

In the world there are several entities and organizations that are responsible not only for maintaining open standards, but also for investing talent in developing and adapting them to the new needs of users. In the same way, some entities have standards that focus on different areas but are just as important. While the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineer (IEEE) handles wave and connection standards, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) handles standards for pages and connections on the web.

These organizations created in 2012 a series of 5 principles for your open standards. These are:

  • Cooperation.
  • Adherence to the principles.
  • Collective empowerment.
  • Availability.
  • Voluntary adoption. 

In the same way, this definition emphasizes that no standard is dominated exclusively by one person, company or stakeholder.   

The open standards that make everyday life possible 

This definition of open standards is important as it functions as a foundation for the phone market. In general, most manufacturers choose to include open standards in their phones. MediaTek, for example, integrates several standards in each of its chips, mainly to guarantee interoperability with other devices and never lose connectivity.  

Thanks to open standards it is possible, for example, use a Samsung Galaxy A22 phone, which comes with a MediaTek Helio G80 chip, connect some Huawei headphones and a Realme smartwatch. Although they are all manufactured by different companies, we can use each other without worry because they all support and implement open standards that allow interoperability.  

    Support picture: Mika Baumeister en Unsplash

In the world of devices, the aforementioned IEEE monitors and develops some of the most important standards in the world. The IEEE 802 standard, for example, it traces the connectivity guidelines in Wi-Fi networks, as well as the wired LAN connections. Additionally, the 802.15 standard is related to Bluetooth technology, which connects headphones, watches and other devices every day. On the other hand, the USB-C standard is maintained by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) under the registration IEC-62680.

The implementation of these standards has greatly facilitated the expansion of connectivity. MediaTek, in its role as one of the world's largest connected chip makers, has also implemented these standards to bring IoT home devices to market and maintain the cutting edge of its phone chips.  

And, although these standards are fundamental in the world of telephones, the truth is that they also govern many of the protocols in other industries. In video game consoles, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo have implemented Bluetooth standards for the use of headphones and microphones. In the world of computers, Standards like USB-C can be used for data transmission or even as a connector for monitors and displays.  

A more integrated future 

The constant flow of connected devices has also caused standards and the organizations that maintain them to evolve rapidly. This will be especially important in the implementation of new technologies such as 5G, as well as in the expansion of technologies such as Wi-Fi and its new standard 6E, focused much more on homes and offices with more and more devices.  

Open standards, as well as vendors like MediaTek that implement them, will gain much more relevance in the years to come. This, ultimately, will also mean an increase in community for us users.

Main Image: Zarak khan en Unsplash   

Sebastian Romero Torres
Philosopher by training and inveterate geek. Lover of video games, technology, music and space.

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