Should We Use 3rd-party Compatible Optical Transceivers?

It is no secret that most IT companies currently use or have future plans to start using 3rd-party compatible optical transceivers – because of simple fact that they are much more budgetary than Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) optical transceivers. However, there are still many companies that dare not use 3rd-party compatible optical transceivers.



Doubts of using OEM hardware or 3rd-party hardware are based on assumption that 3rd-party hardware will void OEM device warranty and support. Comparing some of the biggest network equipment vendors’ warranty policies (Cisco, HPE, Juniper, etc.), we can find that most of them have similar rules on using 3rd-party compatible optical transceivers. If problems are caused by 3rd-party compatible optical transceivers, then warranty support will be refused until optical transceivers are changed to OEM ones. In the mean while, if defect to vendor’s equipment is caused by 3rd-party compatible optical transceiver and it is proved by vendor, then warranty can also be voided. Then, should we still use 3rd-party compatible optical transceivers? Let’s talk about the difference between 3rd-party transceivers and OEM transceivers first.



In fact, there is no real difference between 3rd-party transceivers and OEM transceivers. The 3rd-party transceivers ensures the same working and quality standards as OEM transceivers, because they are manufactured and assembled in the same factories where OEM branded ones are. And largest part of optical transceivers is manufactured mostly at the Aisan countries such as China, Malaysia, and Thailand etc. Optical transceivers are standardized by Multi-Source Agreement (MSA) specifications. This means everyone can manufacture and supply optical transceivers. As a result there is absolutely no difference in hardware for official branded transceiver and reliable 3rd-party compatible optical transceiver, as much as four or ten times cost difference. The performance is the same because all manufacturers follow the same rules and standards.


Optical transceivers in general are based on very basic technology. They are destined to be like that because they are mostly driven by laser which is active component and has fixed longevity. When laser gets out of shape, optical transceiver is easily exchangeable to new one. As a result, there is no reason for OEM transceivers to be more costly compared to similar 3rd-party compatible transceivers. As well they don’t have any much options damaging device where they are used. In our personal experience, our company have delivered tens of thousands optical transceivers in previous years, and we have never met a technical problem when optical transceiver does some hardware based damage to device where it is used. 3rd-party compatible optical transceivers can be as reliable as official OEM ones.


Now that there is no real difference between OEM transceivers and 3rd-party transceivers, then why network equipment vendors have such strict warranty policies? That is because network equipment manufacturers have to make money. They will use all available resources to sell more of their production. So they make warranty policies which psychologically affects their customers, making them think that there will be problems (warranty void) if they use other vendor equipment’s products (such as the 3rd-party transceivers) in their OEM devices.


In the legislatio of the United States, there is a law which prohibits warranty void only because your customer uses other vendor’s equipment which is analogue to original vendors equipment. Voiding of a warranty in this situation would be violating what is defined in the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act of 1975 (15 United States Code section 2302(c)) as a “Tie-In Sales” provision.


Of course the OEM switch manufacturer’s warranty would not cover any 3rd-party transceiver deployed in their devices. Sometimes OEM vendors try to exaggerate this as if it is an odd, difficult or exceptional issue. The truth is a typical network is composed of many devices from many different manufacturers, with each device supported by its manufacturer’s warranty.

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Gigalight 3rd-party Compatible 100G QSFP28 Optical Transceivers: