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Tech groups join for standards push

In an attempt to coordinate the development of domestic consumer electronics and international networking protocols, two influential technology organizations formalize their relationship.

In an attempt to coordinate the development of domestic consumer electronics and international networking protocols, two influential technology organizations formalized their relationship and pledged better cooperation.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a Geneva, Switzerland-based standards arm of the United Nations that publishes telecom protocols, said Tuesday it had formalized its relationship with the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), a trade group based in Arlington, Va., that represents makers of devices such as video games, audio components and home networking gear.

Under the new relationship, the CEA--which sponsors the popular annual CES trade show--becomes one of the ITU's "qualified reference organizations," elevating what a CEA representative described as informal ties between the groups.

"This signals both groups' willingness to work together more closely," the representative said. "CEA has a pre-eminent standards domain in North America for consumer electronics, and this shows our growth into the international sphere."

In a release, the ITU said it hoped the partnership would "help foster a diverse marketplace where products are produced using quality defining standards, and where prices are kept down through the avoidance of proprietary or de facto standards."

A specific goal of granting CEA its new status is the coordination of standards work and the sharing of expertise and resources to avoid duplicating effort, the ITU said. The groups pledged cooperation on wireless and mobile communications, cable systems and multimedia technologies.

"ITU has a significant role to play in the future of consumer electronics," Houlin Zhao, director of the ITU's Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, said in the prepared statement. "We believe strongly that a policy of cooperation with other standards development bodies is the most efficient way to create a fair and free market for businesses and consumers."

With its new designation, the CEA joins about 30 other industry and standards groups with formal ties to the ITU. The ITU will meet with various standards partners at its Informal Forum Summit Meeting in San Francisco on July 24 and 25.