MPLS Argument Leads to Split Standard

The ITU appears to be supporting an AlcaLu/Huawei-led revolt, a move that some are calling a rift in MPLS standardization

Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

February 28, 2011

2 Min Read
MPLS Argument Leads to Split Standard

The MPLS operations, administration and management (OAM) effort officially has an offshoot, which ought to make Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. happy while possibly raising some blood pressures at Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC).

Last week, International Telecommunication Union, Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Study Group 15 apparently passed a recommendation for using the ITU Y.1731 standard for operations, administration and management (OAM) in transport networks. Light Reading didn't have a formal announcement handy at press time; we're inferring the details from an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and Internet Society (ISOC) statement denouncing the ITU-T decision, and from a happy but vague e-mail sent to us by Huub van Helvoort, a Huawei representative to the ITU-T.

Why this matters
Analysts had started feeling like this debate would end up this way, but it's still an interesting, dramatic turn in what's become a heated argument over standards. The side that got their way includes AlcaLu, China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), Huawei and Telecom Italia (TIM) ; they had campaigned to get Y.1731 included in the MPLS-TP discussion.

Last fall, those companies were accused of disrupting standards meetings by bringing this issue up again. Many participants considered Y.1731 a dead issue, bypassed in favor of an MPLS-TP approach that was to be jointly developed by the IETF and ITU-T. But Y.1731 is already implemented in some equipment and has been deployed by China Mobile, and its supporters clearly weren't willing to let go.

The next move would apparently belong to the MPLS-TP camp, which includes big names of its own. Cisco and Ericsson, in particular, have campaigned about the supposed superiority of MPLS-TP, leaning on its compatibility with MPLS.

What's wrong with having two approaches? The IETF/ISOC statement says it runs counter to the open nature of the Internet, because it "ensures that the two product groups [those based on Y.1731 and those based on MPLS] will not work together."

For more
If you didn't catch the fun a few months ago, here's our coverage of the Y.1731 debate, with the most recent article listed first:

  • MPLS-TP Could Be Headed for a Split

  • Rumor: T-MPLS Group Gets Shouted Down [free registration required]

  • MPLS-TP Delays Keep T-MPLS Alive

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

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