Electronic Design

Traversing The Telecom Standards Maze

Proprietary designs once dominated telecom equipment. Individual companies provided total solutions encompassing the customer premises equipment, central-office gear, and a link with the wide-area network. To remain competitive, cut costs, and keep pace with technological innovation, vendors are now moving from proprietary to standards-based designs. Several organizations are involved in the definition of open platform standards (see “Guide To The Emerging Telecom Standards: Who Does What And Why” at www.electronicdesign.com, Drill Deeper 18294).

The PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG) defines board and chassis standards, including ATCA, AMC, and MicroTCA. The Linux Foundation develops standards for carriergrade, Linux-based operating systems. The Service Availability Forum (SAF) addresses the specific needs of high-availability system design, defining the management functions and interfaces. The OpenSAF organization has assumed stewardship of an open-source implementation of the SAF’s application interface specification (AIS).

Several industry groups are building on these baseline platform standards. The SCOPE Forum has developed profiles for ATCA and AMC systems, carrier-grade operating systems, high-availability middleware, and virtualization. The Open Communication Architecture Forum (OCAF) Focus Group has developed reference frameworks for both radio network controllers and media gateways. The Communications Platform Trade Association (CP-TA) provides documentation and test services for verifying the interoperability of ATCA, MicroTCA, and AMC hardware. And, the Mountain View Alliance (MVA) is emerging as an umbrella organization for all of these organizations.

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