Robin Mersh, CEO Broadband Forum

Innovative new technologies need interoperability for seamless network growth

Robin Mersh, CEO Broadband Forum
Robin Mersh, CEO Broadband Forum

In this great industry of ours, we talk about new innovative technologies on a daily basis. Brilliant young engineers and scientists battle to keep technology ahead of demand and that challenge gets harder and harder with every new device and application that hits the market.

In the twenty years of the Broadband Forum (BBF), originally the DSL Forum, subscriber numbers have exploded from around a million to now more than 740 million. And we are not just talking about broadband access alone here – speeds have increased out of all expectations since the DSL Forum met for the first time in London in 1994. Throughout this time, network device interoperability has been important and to support this the Forum developed test plans and procedures, and more recently has added Certification Programmes, of which TR-069 (CPE WAN Management Protocol) and G-PON are well accepted by the industry.

In 2014 new technologies promise even more bandwidth, greater quality of service and new innovative ways of deploying and managing the network. Fibre To The Distribution Point (FTTdp),, VDSL2 vectoring and Network Functions Virtualization could all revolutionize broadband again. The ITU-T and the BBF are actively working to deliver on this promise, both for standards and best practices. Once again interoperability will be a key issue.

From the earliest days of broadband its growth has been governed by the relationship of three developments: new innovative technologies, new standards and best practices, and, the new services that can take advantage of them. Broadband operators needed two things to make a success out of these technologies, exciting new services and competitive pricing, which together could drive demand. Pricing is of course reliant upon cost, and therefore reducing costs became a big focus for the industry and for DSL that effort focused around widening the choice of technology vendors, which was achieved through interoperability programs. Test plans were developed (including for performance and functionality) and test labs engaged for independent testing.

These processes have been fundamental to where broadband has reached today and next month at the Broadband World Forum in Amsterdam, organisers Informa have been working closely with the BBF to create the most advanced interoperability pavilion that this event – or any around the world – has ever seen.

The focus is going to be around G-Fast, vectoring VDSL2 , GPON and TR-069 and experts from around the world will be on hand to discuss and explain the latest developments. Companies already confirmed include Aeroflex, Actelis, ADB, Adtran, Alcatel-Lucent, EXFO, Huawei, ITU, Juniper, LAN, MT2, Sagecom, Sckipio,Telebyte and the University of New Hampshire Test Labs (UNH).

Broadband has changed the way we communicate over the last 20 years. Much of how that communication develops towards the next 20 years will be on the pavilion and if you are reading this blog and you are going to Amsterdam, I urge you to come and take a look for yourself.


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