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58 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | OCTOBER 2016 TECHNOLOGY Choosing Reliable Compatibles Buying compatible parts for network equipment can offer expanded choices, lower costs and faster availability. However, service providers must choose both products and suppliers with care. By Ray Hagen / ProLabs B roadband service providers face demand for faster network speeds, more capacity and greater connectivity as well as radically changing market dynamics. Unfortunately, capital budgets are not keeping pace with market demands for bandwidth. Service providers pressed to do more with less are taking a fresh look at how they can better leverage the use of compatible – rather than original equipment manufacturer (OEM) – networking products. ough acceptance of compatibles is growing, many networking professionals still have questions. e cost savings are undeniable, with potential savings of up to 70 percent over comparable OEM products. But cost, though compelling, is just one part of the equation. What additional benefits do compatibles offer service providers? QUALITY, RELIABILITY AND WARRANTIES Some network operators still believe an OEM- branded transceiver is the safe choice. In fact, some providers of compatibles offer transceivers and other products that are the same quality as or better than those offered by OEMs. By no means are compatibles from a reputable source a risky choice. e truth is that the majority of transceivers, both OEM and those sold by quality suppliers, are often produced in the same manufacturing facilities. e most common question service providers ask about compatibles is the impact on their switch warranties. OEMs legally cannot invalidate a warranty based on the use of a compatible product. Further, transceiver- specific warranties are an area where OEMs often fall short. Unlike OEMs, which typically have one-year warranties, some compatible suppliers offer lifetime warranties. Quality hardware is only one element of reliability. ird-party compatible transceivers are designed to comply with industry-standard MSAs (multisource agreements) and are programmed and tested to be fully compatible with OEM products and infrastructure. To protect their business models, OEMs design their transceivers and other products to work only with their own products and systems. Compatibles, on the other hand, are designed to work with all manufacturers' products in the same manner as OEM-supplied transceivers. CHOICE AND AVAILABILITY What would the world be like if there were only one provider and one brand for each product? Innovation would be stifled, and customers would pay exorbitant prices and experience poor service. Luckily, compatibles provide the Some compatibles suppliers offer lifetime warranties for transceivers; OEMs usually offer only one-year warranties.