Frame Relay, MPLS forums to merge

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. The planned merger is expected to be announced later today at the MPLS Forum's Technical and Interoperability Committee meetings in Santa Clara.

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. AMS is looking to align the technical directions of both forums while at the same time reducing cost and operational redundancies, the spokesman says.

Calls to AMS were not immediately 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.

For the first year the combined organization will be known as the MPLS and Frame Relay Alliance.

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, according to the MPLS Forum spokesman.

Specific leaders of the merged organization have not been identified yet, the spokesman 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.

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