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 Monday, February 28, 2011
Geneva, 28 February 2011 – In a big step towards leveraging existing MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) deployment in transport networks, ITU has agreed first stage approval of a key new standard. The ITU-T standard will give network operators the tools necessary to manage large scale deployments of MPLS-based networks. Network operators will now have a choice of OAM (operations, administration and maintenance) tools to best meet their specific transport network requirements. These OAM tools in the hands of network operators will, in particular, allow quick detection of defects and fault isolation.

MPLS is widely embraced in backbone networks as a way to speed up routers. The OAM tools in the ITU-T standard are based on technology proven in carrier grade Ethernet services and legacy transport networks, making it easier for operators to upgrade. In addition to reducing labour costs, network operators will see significantly reduced capital expenditure (CAPEX) costs given that the standard allows for more efficient allocation of bandwidth.

Operators are increasingly looking to MPLS as an end-to-end technology, given its inherent flexibility and support for IP-based applications. The decision was taken together with first stage approval of another standard providing network architecture for MPLS-TP based networks.

Dr Hamadoun Touré, ITU Secretary-General, said: “ITU collaborates and coordinates, in good faith and on the basis of reciprocity, with other relevant organizations in the development of IP networks to ensure maximum benefits to the global community. This is in accordance with the decisions of the 2010 ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. However, this should not lead to a situation where the ITU fails to deliver on its commitments to its own membership. Much effort was made to reach a compromise during last week’s Study Group 15 (SG15) meeting, but the decision was taken very exceptionally by vote, since all attempts at compromise had failed.”

ITU-T SG15 began working on transport profiles for MPLS technology suitable for use in the network layer of transport networks more than three years ago. A joint working team (JWT) was set up to allow Internet Engineering Taskforce (IETF) and ITU experts to work together to avoid divergent work streams. Specifically, it was expected that this group would provide the necessary protocol extensions for ITU’s specifications to work in an MPLS environment. IETF committed to provide its contribution by the second quarter of 2009. However this crucial technical input was not provided and the IETF’s MPLS-TP Interoperability Design Team (MEAD) was unilaterally disbanded by IETF in October 2009.

Malcolm Johnson, Director, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau, ITU: “ITU is a consensus based organization and voting is always a last resort. In this case it was clear that a significant part of our membership could not accept any further delay in pursuing a solution that will give them the ability to address a real market need. Given that there are over 100,000 MPLS-TP nodes already in transport networks, it is essential that the corresponding OAM tool.

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