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FAQs  
  • What is a Plugtests TM Event?
    Plugtests refers to event where engineers get together to test the interoperability of their implementations between each other. 
    • Plugtests are part of the standardization process.
    • The implementations tested may be prototypes or products ready for commercialization
    • The events are open to every developers
    • The events are usually of short duration (1-5 days)
    • They take place within the time frame of the standards drafting or shortly after its completion
       
  • What is the goal of a Plugtests TM Event?
    The aim is Interoperability.  This is what standards are all about.  Plugtests increase the probability of achieving interoperability by debugging the standard and companies’ implementations at an early stage.
     

  • What happens during a Plugtests TM Event?
    Plugtests are for engineers who are implementing a standard. They are not for people who just want to see what the competition is working on. Plugtests are also not trade shows. So care needs to be taken that only engineers with implementations attend.
     
  • It seems that pretty sensitive information may be revealed at Plugtests. Doesn’t this risk outweigh the benefits?
    The fact that companies do go to these events demonstrates that, at least for those companies, risk outweighs benefits.  We put this question to the participants, on a scale of 1 (risks outweighs benefits) to 5 (benefits outweighs risks), the total average score of about 70 events is 4.2.
     
  • Aren’t interoperability events benefiting only small companies?
    No. The question assumes – wrongly – that a small company has an implementation which is inferior to that of a big company.
     
  • Aren’t Plugtests benefiting only non-experienced companies, i.e. companies that are just starting to implement the standard, over experienced companies?
    That’s precisely the reason why the time-window for such event is rather short, i.e. only as long as the standard is still in the making. As soon as there is a general understanding on how to interpret a standard, there is no more incentive for the experienced player to participate in Plugtests and give newcomers lessons for free.
     
  • Is a Plugtests Event only for equipment manufacturers?
    Most of the participants are equipment manufacturers (vendors). But often operators are experimenting with the standard as well, writing their own implementations to get a better understanding of the standard and of potential problems.
     
  • What are the BENEFITS of a Plugtests?
    The events help to enhance the quality of a standard in the making. Plugtests find errors or ambiguities in standards and thereby help improve the quality of standards.
    • Fast feedback into the standards process
      The earlier bugs are discovered, the cheaper it is to correct them.  To start writing conformance test specifications, the standard has to be quite mature.  Also, the process of generating Abstract Test Suites does take some time.  Plugtests take place early in the standards process and therefore allow fast feedback on possible errors or ambiguities in the specification.  Engineers say that these events definitely speed up the process of bringing products to the market.
    • Increased circle of participants - developers are active in the process.
    • Close interaction and cross fertilization between the people drafting and those implementing the standard is beneficial for the quality of the standard.
    • Plugtests gauge the market acceptance of a standard.
    • Publicity of Plugtests will raise awareness in the market about the standard.
    • Debugging a vendor’s implementation
      Testing against products of other companies, engineers find errors in their implementation that they would not have found otherwise, or only much later.
    • Meeting other developers familiar with the standard
      By making personal contact with developers of other companies and getting to know them, questions and answers that one doesn’t want to post on a public mailing list can be exchanged after the event.
    • Overall, Plugtests save companies and the industry lots of time and money
      Engineers rank the usefulness of these events consistently very high. In addition to discovering problems, these events allow testing with a wide range of vendors in a short amount of time. According to participants, much time and money is therefore saved as opposed to one-on-one scheduling.
       
  • What do Plugtests have to do with standardization?
    They take place while the standard is still in the making.  As long as there are changes to the standard, there will be interest in Plugtests.  Once the standard has settled, participation at Plugtests may drop until new certification releases are introduced.
    In contrast, interoperability testing as done by e.g. test houses or network operators comes later in the process, i.e. when the implementation is about to be ready for the mass market.
     
  • How can Plugtests enhance the quality of specifications?
    Plugtests take place early in the process, namely while the standard is still being drafted. They don’t guarantee interoperability, but they increase the probability of interworking. They enable the identification of areas for improvements, errors and ambiguities within the standard.
     
  • Don't well written standards make Plugtests superfluous?
    The better standards are written with few options, the easier it is to achieve interoperability.  Good standards don’t make Plugtests superfluous, but good standards necessitate fewer of them.
     
  • Are Plugtests something new?
    No, Plugtests have been around for many years, though less in the telecommunications world. They are also known as "Plugfests", "Interoperability events", "Group tests" and "IOP".

 

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