Telcordia Standards

The Whats and Hows of Telcordia Standards

The Whats and Hows of Telcordia Standards

Before 1984, the world of telecom standards looked very different from how it does now. Such a world prominently featured closed systems like the one AT&T had in the United States. They were stable and functional systems but led to a sluggish pace of technology innovation due to the lack of competition. The breakup of the Bell System in the early 1980s, where AT&T was forced to divest from their local Bell operating and manufacturing units, caused a tectonic shift in the industry. As a result, new standards bodies rose to meet the demands of a reinvented telecom sector.

Bellcore, formerly Bell Communications Research, was one of the first organizations to answer this demand. Bellcore aided the Regional Bell Operating Companies by creating “generic requirements” (GR) documents that specified the design, operation, and purpose of telecom networks, equipment, and components. These GRs provided thorough criteria to help new suppliers design interoperable equipment, leading to the explosion of a new supplier ecosystem that made “GR conformant” equipment. An industry that relied on a few major suppliers thus became a more dynamic and competitive field, with carriers allowed to work with several suppliers almost overnight.

Bellcore is now Telcordia, and although the industry saw the emergence of other standards bodies, Telcordia still plays a major role in standardization by updating and producing new GR documents. Some of the most well-known documents are reliability prediction standards for commercial telecommunication products. Let’s discuss what these standards entail and why they matter in the industry.

What is the goal of Telcordia reliability standards?

Telecommunications carriers can use general requirements documents to select products that meet reliability and performance needs. The documents cover five sections:

  • General Requirements, which discuss documentation, packaging, shipping, design features, product marking, safety and interoperability.
  • Performance Requirements, which cover potential tests, as well as the performance criteria applied during testing.
  • Service Life Tests, which mimic the stresses faced by the product in real-life use cases.
  • Extended Service Life Tests, which verify long-term reliability.
  • Reliability Assurance Program, which ensures satisfactory, long-term operation of products in a telecom plant

Several of these specifications require environmental/thermal testing and often refer to other MIL STD and EIA / TIA test specifications. Listed below are a few common Telcordia test specifications that require the use of environmental testing.

Telcordia Generic RequirementDescription/Applicable Product
GR-49-COREfor Outdoor Telephone Network Interface Devices
GR-63-COREfor Network Equipment-Building System Requirements (NEBS): Physical Protection
GR-326-COREfor Single Mode Optical Connectors and Jumper Assemblies (Fiber Optics)
GR-468-COREfor Optoelectronic Devices Used in Telecommunications Equipment
GR-487-COREfor Electronic Equipment Cabinets (Enclosures)
GR-974-COREfor Telecommunications Line Protector Units (TLPUS)
GR-1209-COREfor Fiber Optic Branching Components
GR-1221-COREfor Passive Optical Components
Table 1: Common Telcordia GR documents that require environmental testing.

What are Telcordia tests like

For example, our optical transceivers at EFFECT Photonics comply with the Telcordia GR-468 qualification, which describes how to test optoelectronic devices for reliability under extreme conditions. Qualification depends upon maintaining optical integrity throughout an appropriate test regimen. Accelerated environmental tests are described in the diagram below. The GR recommends that a chosen test regimen be constructed upon expected conditions and stresses over the long term life of a system and/or device.

Mechanical Reliability & Temperature Testing
Shock & VibrationHigh / Low Storage TempTemp Cycle
Damp HeatCycle Moisture ResistanceHot Pluggable
Mating DurabilityAccelerated AgingLife Expectancy Calculation
Table 2: Examples of necessary verification tests for transceivers that will operate in harsh temperatures

Our manufacturing facilities and partners include capabilities for the temperature cycling and reliability testing needed to match Telcordia standards, such as temperature cycling ovens and chambers with humidity control.

Why are Telcordia standards important?

Companies engage in telecom standards for several reasons:

  • Strategic Advantage: Standards influence incumbents with well-established products differently than startups with “game changer” technologies. Following a technological standard helps incumbents get new business and safeguard their existing business. If a new vendor comes along with a box based on a new technology that gives identical functionality for a fraction of the price, you now have a vested stake in that technological standard.
  • Allocation of Resources: Standards are part of technology races. If a competitor doubles technical contributions to hasten the inclusion of their specialized technology into evolving standards, you need to know so you may react by committing additional resources or taking another action.
  • Early Identification of Prospective Partners and Rivals: Standards help suppliers recognize competitors and potential partners to achieve business objectives. After all, the greatest technology does not necessarily “win the race”, but the one with the best business plans and partners that can help realize the desired specification and design.
  • Information Transfer: Most firms use standards to exchange information. Companies contribute technical contributions to standards groups to ensure that standards are as close as feasible to their business model and operations’ architecture and technology. Conversely, a company’s product and service developers must know about the current standards to guarantee that their goods and services support or adhere to industry standards, which clients expect.


One of our central company objectives is to bring the highest-performing optical technologies, such as coherent detection, all the way to the network edge. However, achieving this goal doesn’t just require us to focus on the optical or electronic side but also on meeting the mechanical and temperature reliability standards required to operate coherent devices outdoors. This is why it’s important for EFFECT Photonics to constantly follow and contribute to standards as it prepares its new product lines.

Corlia van Tonder

Share this post

Share This

Copy Link to Clipboard