What does the term ‘multi-source agreement’ mean?

A multi-source agreement, commonly known as a MSA, is an agreement between multiple manufacturers to make products that have the same basic functionality and operability across different vendors. MSAs act as de facto standards, establishing and promoting a competitive market for interoperable products instead of a monopolistic structure.

With MSAs, suppliers must therefore compete to gain their share of the market. This helps drive down cost for the end user, gives customers more freedom in the suppliers they may select from and means that all players can compete on equal terms. Put simply, customers may purchase optical transceivers from any vendor he or she prefers as long as they meet the standards set out within MSA.


What do multi-source agreements for the optical transceiver industry specify?

MSA standards are in place for all pluggable form factors including SFP, SFP+, XFP, XENPAK, QSFP, QSFP28 and CFP. The MSAs specify parameters for system components and their guideline values, such as the electrical and optical interfaces, mechanical dimensions, electro-magnetic values and additional features such as digital monitoring DDI/DOM. Here the industry standard SFP-8472 is referenced. The standards also set forth a precedent for the Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory (EEPROM). The EEPROM storage locations are also defined with the MSA. They include information that may be displayed to the user via a user interface or network monitoring tool such as transmitting protocol, vendor name, serial number and so on.


Why can’t multi-source agreements guarantee compatibility?

Because life is not always that simple. Over the years equipment vendors have attempted to lock in the customer by making transceivers proprietary for commercial reasons.  This is usually achieved by the use of special codes in MSA defined or undefined memory locations. This means that once inserted the compatible will identify to the user as “unsupported transceiver” or display a similar message. However, most of the established compatible transceiver suppliers have understood this and are able to write the appropriate codes to the transceivers for the appropriate vendor. Clearly in this regard it is important to select a supplier that has the means to test the transceiver in the correct networking device  to ensure interoperability.


How does TXO Optics guarantee carrier-grade quality?

At TXO Optics, we have set ourselves apart from other providers by investing in technical staff and testing facilities to ensure that our customers receive properly tested optics. Our modules are rigorously tested for carrier-grade quality in terms of compatibility and optical performance in our testing lab. The testing regime is usually determined in consultation with the customer and can vary from every item to an agreed proportion of shipped modules.


Does using 3rd party optics void the warranty of the hardware it’s being used within?

These types of warnings exist. They are seldom made in writing and are widely held to be unenforceable. Our understanding is that custom and practice today is that warranty or support will not be withheld unless the compatible transceiver can be proven to have caused a defect, which is more or less unheard of. In any case, today operators routinely ask system vendors to certify the use of quality compatibles from reputable and professional suppliers.


The benefits of TXO Optics

TXO Optics provides a wide portfolio of optical transceivers from 1G to 100G, including SFP, SFP+, X2, XENPAK, XFP, QSFP, QSFP+, CFP and so on. All of our optical transceivers comply with the respective MSAs and are compatible with major and challenger brands used in the Telecoms world.

  • Significant cost savings compared with OEM supply. In some cases hundreds or even thousands of EUR/USD on a single module
  • Transparent quoting process
  • Stock holding in USA and Europe for rapid delivery anywhere in the world
  • MSA (multi-source agreement) standards compliant optical transceivers
  • Sourced from appropriately qualified manufacturing partners with whom we have a strong relationship
  • Comprehensively tested within the TXO Optics testing facility to ensure 100% compatibility
  • As part of the testing program customers may receive no-obligation samples for evaluation purposes
  • Backed by a comprehensive 3 year advance replacement warranty


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