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NTCIP 2303 - File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Application Profile

This Fact Sheet was written on October 01, 2005. The status of the standard at the time was: Published in December 2001.

This Fact Sheet was last verified on October 14, 2009


The National Transportation Communications for Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) Protocol (NTCIP) is a family of standards that provides both the rules for communicating (called protocols) and the vocabulary (called objects) necessary to allow electronic traffic control equipment from different manufacturers to operate with each other as a system. The NTCIP is the first set of standards for the transportation industry that allows traffic control systems to be built using a "mix and match" approach with equipment from different manufacturers. Therefore, NTCIP standards reduce the need for reliance on specific equipment vendors and customized one-of-a-kind software. To assure both manufacturer and user community support, NTCIP is a joint product of the National Electronics Manufacturers Association (NEMA), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). More information concerning the NTCIP family of standards and their related documents is available in the NTCIP 9001 - NTCIP Guide, available on-line at (www.ntcip.org).

Prior to the establishment of the NTCIP, traffic management systems used a number of proprietary protocols to exchange information with field devices such as traffic signal controllers and dynamic message signs. The goal of all NTCIP standards is to identify a common set of non-proprietary communications protocols that address requirements for center-to-center and center-to-field communications and promote interoperability.

What are these standards for?

This standard, NTCIP 2303 - File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Application Profile, combines various base standards and protocols into a coordinated set of functions and procedures related to large file transfers. It specifies a subset of features that must be supported by all implementations of the profile. It also specifies the requirements for the implementation of a connection-oriented, full-featured file transfer mechanism in transportation-related devices and traffic management centers and it describes requirements for interactive access, formatting data, and authentication control. It adapts an Internet standard (IAB STD 9 - RFC 959:1985, File Transfer Protocol) to transportation.

This standard specifically addresses functions and services at layers 5 (session), 6 (presentation), and 7 (application) of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Reference Model (ISO/IEC 7498-1). The OSI seven-layered model describes the basic functions and services of a communication protocol.

Who uses them?

This standard, NTCIP 2303 - File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Application Profile, should be used by equipment manufacturers, systems integrators, and transportation agency personnel. Manufacturers and integrators should understand the specific implementation and operational requirements that it defines. Specification writers and acceptance testers can also find this standard useful, since it defines a profile implementation conformance specification (PICS). Manufacturers, integrators, and users can use this standard as:

a. A checklist to reduce the risk of failure to conform to the standard through oversight;
b. A detailed indication of the capabilities of the implementation;
c. A basis for initially checking the possibility of inter-operating with another implementation; and
d. The basis for selecting appropriate tests against which to assess the claim for conformance of the implementation.

How are they used?

This standard, NTCIP 2303 - File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Application Profile, defines a profile that is used to establish the rules and procedures for exchanging large files, between two entities, in center-to-center and center-to-field applications. In many center-to-field applications, field devices may not support full file and directory services and the functionality required by this standard. In such cases, the NTCIP 2302 (Trivial File Transfer Protocol Application Profile) standard should be used.


This standard, NTCIP 2303 - File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Application Profile, specifies a set of features and a combination of standards and protocols applicable to file exchange in a system. It is applicable to transportation devices and management systems that operate in a variety of transportation applications. Finally, it specifies requirements for the application, presentation, and session layers of the OSI Reference Model.

Related documents

The following ITS standards and documents are related and should be considered when using this standard:

The following standards and documents, while not part of the ITS standards, should also be considered when using this standard:

How to obtain Standards
American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
Institute of Transportation Engineers
Association of Electrical and Medical Imaging Equipment Manufacturers (NEMA), formerly known as National Electrical Manufacturers Association