Today's Broadband Forum has its roots over 20 years ago in a number of distinct forums, each focused on a specific technology to enable services to enterprise, mobile networks and high-speed access.
The Frame Relay Forum, started in 1991, bringing a standardized wide area data interface to multiprotocol routing and bridging that enabled simple LAN interconnect and enabled faster, more cost effective communication of mission critical data such as IBM's SNA. Frame Relay is they key technology in 2G mobile networks to backhaul data to the Internet.
Also in 1991, the ATM Forum was founded to converge multiple types of network traffic over a single network infrastructure. The first networks to handle voice, video and data were based on ATM technologies and interfaces. These networks handled voice from telephony networks, mobile backhaul traffic from the first 3G mobile networks and included the first residential and business DSL networks in the mid 90s. These networks used ATM as their core transport technology from the customer premises to the Internet.
In 1994, the ADSL Forum emerged defining implementation agreements, architecture and testing specifications for Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line technology. The deliverables from this forum founded the basis for our modern day residential and business broadband Internet access. Later in 1999 the renamed DSL Forum expanded to address all forms of DSL, their associated architectures and management. These architectures were often built on the interfaces, technologies and interfaces developed by the Frame Relay and ATM Forums as well as other standards development organizations.
In 2000, the MPLS Forum was established, creating application and deployment solutions for MPLS based networks used to enhance and better enable the transport of IP and to explore converging the different technology specific networks to a single, efficient network infrastructure.
As the telecommunication and data communications network industry sought to converge infrastructure and operate more efficiently, these technologies began to converge to provide corresponding solutions. In turn so did the corresponding forums. In 2003, the Frame Relay Forum and MPLS Forum united creating the MPLS and Frame Relay Alliance to better address the needs of network operators who wanted to maintain the 11 billion dollar service business Frame Relay had become while at the same time efficiently provide TDM, voice, and Ethernet services over a single network.
In 2005, the MPLS and Frame Relay Alliance combined with the ATM Forum creating the MFA Forum. This convergence reflected the use and evolution of ATM in enterprise, telephony, mobile, video and residential DSL networking as well as the more efficient emulation using MPLS over ever higher speed transmission media. This forum later changed its name to the IP/MPLS Forum focusing on the key technologies of the network aggregation and core and their application.
In 2008, the DSL Forum, having expanded its work to address fiber architecture, management and digital home support changed its name to the Broadband Forum, which better represented the expanded scope and the broader mission of Broadband networking rather than focus on a single technology.
In 2009, the IP/MPLS Forum and the Broadband Forum combined their expertise and united to focus on solutions that addressed the network as a whole and not its individual core or access technologies and architectures. The name Broadband Forum was kept to represent the total view of an end-to-end broadband network in all of its applications. The applications such as enterprise interconnect, mobile, video service delivery as well as the traditional residential broadband internet access, along with all of their latest enhancements, are still at the core of what the Forum strives to address.
In its current form, the present day Broadband Forum is a convergence of these predecessor forums that creates an organization with over 20 years of expertise, experience and vision to architect networks and solutions for the next generation.