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What are Standards & where can you find them?

Standards allow different systems to communicate with each other and different parts of a system or subsystem to interact with each other in a well-defined and predictable manner. If a technology has made it into the standards then it is an indication that it is a mature technology that is likely to be around for a while and will be available from a number of different vendors.

Standards have an important part to play in high performance optical communications networks and in telecoms systems generally. There are a number of standards organisations that are active in the telecoms field.

ITU Logo

The International Telecommunications Union

The ITU is an executive agency of the United Nations and exists to facilitate telecommunications between member states of the UN. The ITU-T section deals with standardisation of telecommunications systems. Standardisation activities are organised into Study Groups. Study Group 15 deals with fibre optic systems. All ITU-T published Recommendations are available for free download from the ITU website.

IEC Logo

The International Electrotechnical Commission

IEC Technical Committee (TC) 86 deals with fibre optics. Subcommittee (SC) 86A deals with fibres and cables, SC86B deals with connectors and passive devices, SC86C deals with fibre optic systems and active devices. There are a number of working groups under each subcommittee that do most of the standards development work.


The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers

The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers is a professional association of engineers. One aspect of its work is the 802.3 Working Group that has responsibility for the development of the Ethernet standard.

Although Ethernet was originally a Local Area Networking standard it is now found throughout all forms of communications networks. Mature published versions of the Ethernet standard are available for free download. The standards development work of the IEEE is carried out by working groups that are formed for specific tasks. For example, the 802.3bs working group is responsible for the 400G Ethernet standards.

OTT is approved as a preferred provider for the IEEE Certificates Program. This allows our training partners to offer IEEE Continuing Education Units (CEUs) or Professional Development Hours (PDHs) certificates for our 5-day certification courses: COFI, CFCE and CONA. The CEUs and PDHs may be used by professional engineers to contribute towards their continuing professional development (CPD) goals.


European Telecommunications Standards Institute

ETSI produces globally-applicable standards for Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), including fixed, mobile, radio, converged, broadcast and Internet technologies. Of particular interest to the world of Optical Networking is their work on NFV (Network Functions Virtualisation).

OIF Logo

Optical Internetworking Forum

The Optical Internetworking Forum is an industry group formed in 1998 to promote worldwide compatibility of optical internetworking products. Members of the forum include many of the world’s leading carriers, component manufacturers and system vendors.


Internet Engineering Task Force

The IETF is an organised activity of the Internet Society with responsibility for the development of standards related to the Internet. The mission of the IETF is to make the Internet work better by producing high quality, relevant technical documents that influence the way people design, use, and manage the Internet.

Open Networking Foundation (ONF)

The Open Networking Foundation (ONF) serves as the umbrella for a number of projects building solutions by leveraging network disaggregation, white box economics, open source software and software defined standards to revolutionize the carrier industry.

BSI Logo


BSI is the UK’s National Standards Body and was actually the world’s first national standards body. BSI currently adopts and publishes all European Standards as identical British Standards with the prefix BS EN.

You can find links to the BS EN 50173 and BS EN 50174 series of standards here.

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