Standards Bodies: Who "Owns" What

IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)

The IEEE is an international technical professional association which sets standards through IEEE-SA (the IEEE Standards Association). The scope of IEEE-SA standards is very broad, ranging from the National Electrical Safety Code to software engineering standards. The MAC (Medium Access Control) and PHY (Physical) layers of Ethernet and other networks are specified by the IEEE 802.x family of standards.

IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force)

"The IETF is a large open international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers concerned with the evolution of the Internet architecture and the smooth operation of the Internet. It is open to any interested individual."

The IETF is generally responsible for Internet standards (called RFCs), including IP (RFC-791), UDP (RFC-768), TCP (RFC-793), RTP (RFC-1889) and HTTP (RFC-2616).

W3C (World Wide Web Consortium)

"The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential." These include HTML, PNG graphics and XML and its many offspring.

Who "Owns" Ethernet ?

Ethernet has multiple layers. Lower-level layers (e.g. physical, electrical, signaling and data link management) are specified by the IEEE-SA.

Higher-level parts of the Ethernet protocol stack use (or rely on) IP, TCP, UDP, FTP and related standards. These are specified by IETF (and referenced by IEEE and W3C). IETF specifies most if not all of the "core" Internet technologies.

WWW technologies, specified by W3C, are built on top of HTTP and other foundation Internet technologies specified by IETF.

Often, different standards bodies become involved in similar areas. For example, standards related to IEEE-1394 have been issued (and cross-referenced) by IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission), 1394-TA (1394 Trade Association) and even MMA / AMEI (Adaptation Layer for MIDI Over 1394). It is not always clear which bodies have authority over a given area.