Interoperability: Harmony in the Network

Interoperability is the 'glue' that holds communications networks together, and it's as important as ever as new technologies such as enter the market.

Robin Mersh

July 27, 2015

2 Min Read
Interoperability: Harmony in the Network

The recent hype around new plugfests, with our first ever equipment plugfest having no less than 14 vendors participating at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL), highlights the level of significance these events, and the compliance and interoperability they are designed to achieve, have for the industry. (See Broadband Forum Completes Plugfest.)

A plugfest is one of the first steps towards interoperability, enabling companies to have an early opportunity to test and benchmark the interoperability of their products prior to full certification testing.

Interoperability benefits all parties, from service providers to manufacturers, retailers and end users. Service provider networks, having evolved over many years, are not homogeneous. Different layers of networking equipment are added to the network over time, from legacy to upgrades and the latest new technologies. These technologies must all work in harmony to be able to handle many types of traffic and ensure faster widespread deployment of any new technology being introduced.

This all translates to cost savings and acceleration of time to market. Standardized interoperability and certification create a trusted base of equipment and services without which, in spite of huge investments in time and resources, there may be years of delay and in-service failures that impact revenue and credibility.

Service providers already recognize the value that a compliant, fully interoperable network operation brings to their business. By implementing interoperable equipment onto their networks, operators can erase the challenge of equipment not meeting expectations, avoid extensive testing and eradicate post-deployment problems.

As well as this, the reduced test time, in turn, speeds up the time to market, offering a solution for providers looking to quickly meet the demands of their customers for new services such as 4K TV, alongside the increased use of data and cloud services.

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Interoperability is the "glue" that holds the diversity of the network together. It enables network flexibility and functionality for operators: Without it, fragmentation in the market will occur, thus limiting consumer choice in a growing market where reliable networks are needed to provide the backbone for the Internet of Everything.

It is vital that service providers worldwide continue to rally in support of interoperability, not only to be able to cost efficiently leverage and upgrade their networks but also to strengthen the networking industry as a whole, by creating an open, fair and competitive market.

By allowing service providers access to an unprecedented number of network compliant technologies, such as TR-069, GPON and, we are creating a fully interoperable landscape: The advantages are endless for service providers.

— Robin Mersh, CEO, Broadband Forum

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About the Author(s)

Robin Mersh

Robin Mersh, Broadband Forum Chief Executive Officer, joined the Broadband Forum as Chief Operating Officer in July 2006, and was promoted to Chief Executive Officer in July 2010. Robin has held leadership positions in the telecommunications industry for over 18 years. Robin has worked in business development and alliance management for various OSS software companies in the United States, mainly in network and service provisioning and activation, where he negotiated and managed several large OEM agreements. He is originally from Cambridge in the United Kingdom. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London in 1992. His favorite movie is Barbarella (honestly!).

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