Measuring and comparing performance, cost, and other features of advanced communication architectures for complex multi core/multiprocessor systems on chip is a significant challenge which has hardly been addressed so far. This document outlines the top-level view on a system of benchmarks for Networks on Chip (NoC), which intends to cover a wide spectrum of NoC design aspects, from application modeling to performance evaluation and post-manufacturing test and reliability. For performance benchmarking, requirements and features are described for application programs, synthetic micro-benchmarks, and abstract benchmark applications. Then, it proposes ways to measure and benchmark reliability, fault tolerance and testability of the on-chip communication fabric. This paper introduces the main concepts and ideas for benchmarking NoCs in a systematic and comparable way. It will be followed up by a report that will define a benchmark framework and the syntax of interfaces for benchmark programs that will allow the community to build-up a benchmark suite.