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ITU adopts new standard to manage MLPS network deployment; detractors question wisdom of move

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) agreed Feb. 25 to a standard that will give network operators a choice of OAM (operations, administration and maintenance) tools to manage large deployments of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS)-based networks.

MPLS is widely embraced in backbone networks as a way to speed up routers, and operators are looking to it as an end-to-end technology, given its flexibility and support for IP-based applications.

The recommendation defines Y.1731-based OAM for MPLS transport networks.

According to an ITU press announcement, the benefits of the new standard for network operators include reduced labor costs and significantly reduced CAPEX costs, because ITU-T allows bandwidth to be more efficiently allocated.

However, approval of the new ITU standard isn't without its detractors. Lynn St. Amour, president and CEO of the Internet Society, an independent source of Internet leadership, said approval of the new standard is "detrimental" to the long-term health of the Internet.

"The Internet is an unprecedented success thanks to open, globally interoperable standards," St. Amour said. "This action takes us away from the path of global interoperability."

The Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a developer of Internet standards, said following the announcement of the new standard that it plans to continue development of the IETF MPLS standard. As a result, ITU and IETF will be on parallel standards development tracks that have the potential to diverge, creating interoperability issues.

Russ Housley, IETF chairman, said, "The Internet we know today could not have come about without open, interoperable, global standards. I am surprised and disappointed by the action taken by the ITU."