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About the Broadband Forum Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Broadband Forum vision and mission for its work?

The Broadband Forum is the central organization driving broadband wireline solutions and empowering converged packet networks worldwide to better meet the needs of vendors, service providers and their customers. We develop multi-service broadband packet networking specifications addressing interoperability, architecture and management. Our work enables home, business and converged broadband services; encompassing customer, access and backbone networks.

Why did the DSL Forum decide to change its name to The Broadband Forum?

It was time for our name to reflect that our work addresses much more than just DSL. Our work had matured over the years from addressing physical layer ADSL transport specifications, to advanced transport and management specifications for DSL and fiber access. Today we develop service based solutions that are access agnostic, and empower the digital home and office to achieve more with broadband. The DSL Forum name was simply no longer in line with the scope of our work.

What brought about the IP/MPLS Forum and Broadband Forum union?

The IP/MPLS Forum Board did an analysis in 2008 of the industry and determined that convergence was key to the future success of standards. With this in mind they began looking at how their work aligned with other organizations, as well as where they saw gaps. When DSL Forum announced the change to Broadband Forum and began discussing their new focus on convergence and technology agnostic solutions, the IP/MPLS Forum Board took special notice. It was clear the two organization shared a vision for the future, and that their work complemented each other, filling the gaps to empower a stronger core-to-user multi-service architecture. Uniting would clearly serve the industry well, and since the majority of IP/MPLS Forum members were also in the BBF, there were member work efficency benefits as well.

What companies belong to The Broadband Forum?

The Broadband Forum is a global consortium of approximately 190 leading companies covering the telecommunications, equipment, computing, networking and service provider sectors. Associate members include academics, regulatory and nonprofit organizations with an interest in broadband. Members are listed/linked on the Broadband Forum website.

What is the role of the Broadband Forum?

We develop specifications, through consensus, captured in Technical and Marketing Reports which cover interoperability tests, architecture, network and digital home remote management to empower effective deployment and operation of broadband from the network itself through to the home. We share information, experience and best practices inside the industry, and provide inputs to standards bodies through formal liaisons. Our members have the opportunity to frame and contribute to all of our work through our quarterly meetings, the continuing activities of our working groups, interoperability testing events and demonstrations of broadband as well as the formal voting processes that lead to the publication of our Technical Reports.

Does Broadband Forum develop industry standards?

The Forum contributes to global industry standards by developing Technical Reports and through formal liaisons with global standards bodies such as ANSI, ETSI, ATIS and ITU. A full list of our liaisons is at /about/liaisonprogram.php. Broadband Forum Technical Reports cover the technology itself, network operations and management, interoperability and integration of broadband technology into existing infrastructures.

Does Broadband Forum produce subscriber numbers or industry reports?

Industry analyst Point Topic produces global broadband and IPTV subscriber statistics for the Broadband Forum that are published via press releases and on the Forum's website. We also identify new analyst reports of interest to our members, and secure member discounts whenever possible that we post in our Analyst Reports area of the website.

How would you describe the state of broadband right now?

Broadband is a dynamic market all around the world and is the fastest growing area of the telecommunications sector. DSL is the leading broadband technology in the world, holding approximately 65% of the broadband market share and available in every region of the world. Fiber deployments are increasing rapidly and are a key component of IPTV success of the future. See the latest deployment statistics in our last press release at /news/pressoffice.php.

What has happened to previously released IP/MPLS Forum, Frame Relay and ATM Forum documents?

They will be brought over in their entirety, with no changes. Anyone looking for previously approved documents from the ATM Forum, Frame Relay Forum and the IP/MPLS Forum can find them at the /technical/ipmplstechspec.php.

Does the Broadband Forum exclusively endorse MPLS?

No, the focus on technology agnostic solutions will continue. Though MPLS is clearly of great importance to the industry, the Broadband Forum will continue to welcome contributions and work involving other technologies as the industry continues to evolve.

How has the Broadband Forum organization changed since the union with the IP/MPLS Forum?

The organization changed in three ways. In the Technical Committee, a new IP/MPLS & Core working group has been established to continue the valuable MPLS work and to address all new Core and mobile backhaul related work that is brought into the Forum. In the Marketing Committee, new IP/MPLS Ambassadors have been added to our speakers bureau and new MPLS related white papers and tutorials are being developed. Initially a combined board was established to ensure a smooth transition, and now the board still represents members from both of the initial groups.

IP/MPLS and DSL are both widely available - is there really that much more to do? In other words are you on the path to sunset?

There is so much more to do. Initially, the work was about just getting broadband out there, but today's work is focused on optimizing the end-to-end network to be responsive to all the changing needs of online applications, from homes to businesses to cell towers- each with different requirements, yet riding the same network. There are exciting technology changes ahead, and we are committed to empower service providers with all the tools they need to success in this evolving landscape.

IP/MPLS Forum had a more business service solution focus, will that be an energized area of work in the united Broadband Forum?

Yes, this is an exciting area where the IP/MPLS team brings that subject matter expertise. We have continued work around mobile backhaul, and corporate applications, and will map that work into a future business related BroadbandSuite release. The IP/MPLS Forum has undertaken work in the areas of business services (such as VPNs) and security of networks. Their additional skills and increased emphasis on these areas will help the expanded Broadband Forum deliver solutions that address both residential and business/enterprise markets more thoroughly using a single infrastructure.

What is the focus/directives of the new IP/MPLS & Core working group?

The main work of the IP/MPLS & Core WG is very distinct from any other existing work in the BBF and so is an excellent compliment to extend the scope to true end-to-end networking. The existing Architecture & Transport (A&T) WG scope is to cover the architectural and nodal (equipment) functional requirements from the RG on the end-user's premises through Access Node, Aggregation Equipment to the BNG (which can interface to the Core). It does not cover any core network areas. A current key focus area for the A&T WG is WT-145 which is looking at a Next Generation architecture to meet the requirements that the WG has developed in TR-144. Included in the current draft, MPLS is a potential technology referenced within WT-145. However this is one of several alternative technology options and the full debate is still ongoing in the A&T WG and we are hosting joint A&T and IP/MPLS & Core Working Group sessions to facilitatve this debate.

How will FMC, broadband convergence, be addressed?

The Broadband Convergence Oversight committee that has undertaken a gap analysis on the various aspects of FMC work, and how it affects the fixed line providers. We have kicked off a number of initiatives where the Forum will add value. Much of the new work is underway in the BroadbandHome and architecture work is ongoing in the A&T WG. However, since the IPMPLS & Core folks had already launched work on mobile backhaul and they are also progressing these work items. We will continue to work with Femto Forum, WiMAX, 3GPP and other mobile related to ensure our work is in alignment with theirs.

What is the future of Policy Control work in the BBF?

The A&T WG has committed to complete the work around a Policy Management Architecture (WT-134). The IP/MPLS Forum had been working on Generic Connection Admission Control so there is some joint working group efforts to examine how these work items fit to ensure a complimentary solution approach.

Is IPv6 being addressed at the Broadband Forum?

The Broadband Home and A&T WGs have been working on finalizing critical IPv6 work in 2010.

How is Fiber being addressed in the Forum?

FTTH or fiber close to the customer is envisioned by many as the preferred broadband option - but significant investment in that infrastructure has to be made. Providers are actively deploying fiber into Greenfield (new builds) and increasingly as overlay in areas where they rollout IPTV or see user demand warrants the investment. The Broadband Forum's BroadbandSuite Release 3.0 brings fiber solutions into the access mix to ensure effective management of hybrid networks and strong options for better IPTV support. A new fiber related working group is currently working on fiber test suites, and the potential for fiber based certifications.

What are the main benefits of remote management and new standards in auto-configuration?

The BroadbandHome family of TRs provides many benefits to the customers and service providers. With TR-069, providers are able to detect a new device coming online, recognize what it is and what it requires via its Object Model, and provision it effectively and remotely - negating the need in most cases for a service call. As new updates come out, the provider doesn't need to interact with the customer at all - they just set up a download to the devices to remotely update them without any customer trigger at all. For customers, this means less installation and maintenance efforts, and more choice of products as common interface standards emerge.

How is the Broadband Forum involved in equipment interoperability?

The Broadband Forum has developed test suites that define testing and interoperability criteria for network and customer premises equipment. These physical layer test suites continue to be developed to address the needs of newly defined and standardized versions of DSL such as ADSL2+ and VDSL2. Currently there is also ongoing testing in the area of remote management and auto-configuration based on the industry de-facto standard, TR-069. Interoperability activities include multi-vendor 'plugfests' for equipment manufacturers and independent testing through a number of recognized testing laboratories (ITLs) around the world that undertake robust testing to the Broadband Forum's test plan specifications. Recently the Broadband Forum has launched the Broadband Forum Testing & Certification Programs, which currently includes MPLS related testing, and is anticipated to expand to incorporate fiber and home networking related testing as well.

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