July 15, 2004, Salt Lake City, UT -- In a joint announcement today, the MPLS & Frame Relay Alliance and The ATM Forum unveiled plans to form a single organization to advance the deployment of multi-vendor, multi-service, packet-based networks and associated applications and interworking solutions. The merger will create a unified industry association with a combined membership of more than 100 companies, including service providers, equipment vendors, software and silicon suppliers, and enterprise end-users.
"The merger of The ATM Forum and MPLS & Frame Relay Alliance is great news for the industry," contends Stu Elby, vice president of Network Architecture and Enterprise Technology within the Verizon Technology Organization. "The benefit to carriers, and to Verizon in particular, is that now there will be a single body creating Implementation Agreements (IAs), which will reduce the ambiguity that vendors currently face with joint ATM and MPLS technology development. Now carriers and vendors can look to a single industry forum and a common suite of IAs across ATM, FR, and MPLS, which should, in the long run, reduce the time to market for new network capabilities and services."
"In principle, this merger takes the public networking end-game of a profitable, convergence--a ready, true carrier-grade broadband network--one step closer to reality," adds John Mazur, principal analyst, Public Network Infrastructure at market research firm Gartner. "Internetworking of disparate technologies and carrier networks has been the final frontier for divergent standards bodies. Real world progress has often been hindered by competing standards organizations. This combination is a triumph for end-users, service providers, and vendors alike."
The boards of the two forums who have negotiated the merger agreement include representation and backing from the major infrastructure providers as well as service providers. The interim board of the merged forum will include representatives from Alcatel, Agilent Technologies, Bell Canada, Ericsson, Harris Corp., Lucent Technologies, Riverstone Networks, Sprint, Tellabs, and Verizon.
The members of each organization will be asked to approve the merger by the end of this quarter. Completion of the merger is expected to take place by the end of this year. The two organizations held a co-located meeting this week in Salt Lake City and will continue to meet jointly and cooperate on market education and awareness activities in the interim.