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Frame Relay, MPLS forums to merge

Jan 29, 20033 mins
Cellular NetworksMPLS

Like their vendor and service provider members, even the telecom forums are not immune to industry consolidation.

The MPLS Forum and Frame Relay Forum plan to merge their organizations to coordinate activities and gain operational efficiencies. Pending approval of members from both organizations, the merger is expected to be completed by March 31, according to an MPLS Forum spokesman.

Both forums are managed by Association Management Solutions (AMS) of Fremont, Calif. Calls to AMS were not returned.

Frame relay access to an MPLS network core is coming into vogue in the industry. There are currently a number of deployed commercial public services that provide frame relay access to MPLS core networks.

“They are merging for two reasons,” the spokesman says. “First, technology. Frame relay and MPLS are very compatible. Frame relay is a technology on downward side of the longevity curve; MPLS is climbing up fast. Second, money. Combining the forums will create a 76-member organization” and create operational synergies and efficiencies.

Officials from both forums confirmed the spokesman’s viewpoint on the synergies of frame relay and MPLS, but said that cost reduction was not a motivating factor in the decision to combine the two organizations.

“We’re not looking at cost reduction, we’re looking at moving frame relay forward,” says Roger Ruby, president of the Frame Relay Forum. “The fact of the matter is, frame relay is a more mature technology. The two forums combined will provide much better value-add as a whole. Cost reduction was not our motivation at all.”

The forums began discussions two years ago, says Andrew Malis, chairman and president of the MPLS Forum.

“We were contacted by the Frame Relay Forum on what their future should be,” Malis says. “Talking led to action.”

For the first year the combined organization will be known as the MPLS and Frame Relay Alliance. The boards of both forums will be combined to form a new board, Malis says.

The alliance will conduct new board elections this spring, he says.

Leadership of the Marketing and Education Committee and Technical Committee will be shared between the two forums, and current Frame Relay Forum members will have two seats on the combined board of directors. Next year will see a “full merger” of the co-chair positions, Malis says.

The Frame Relay Forum has 23 members and the MPLS Forum has 53. Members of both organizations include Alcatel, Bell Canada, Equant, Ericsson and Lucent.

Both Malis and Ruby expect unanimous approval of the merger by members of both forums.

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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