MSA is an agreement by several manufacturers to create products from different vendors with interoperability and exchangeability. An MSA SFP is an inexpensive counterpart to a premium OEM brand, establishing a competitive market for interoperable products. 

Being new in the telecommunications industry will lead you to encounter the term MSA everywhere. You may see the word MSA showing in the SFP MSA specification table of the transceiver module, such as SFP MSA, SFP+ MSA, QSFP28 MSA, QSFP-DD MSA, OSFP MSA, etc.

We will provide a comprehensive guide to MSA standard and MSA compliant SFP modules.

MSA compliant SFP, what is it?

Transition Networks Small Form-Factor Pluggable (SFP) Transceivers are compatible with a huge variety of systems and platforms. At BEYONDTECH all of the SFPs are compliant with the Multi-Sourcing Agreement (MSA) ensuring interoperability with all other MSA compliant networking devices.

What is an MSA transceiver?

The MSA is a multi-vendors specification defining the transceiver form-factors (dimensions, electrical-connector, pinout, etc.) as well as the management interface. The MSA enables the interoperability between transceivers vendors and switches/routers vendors.

MSA in Networking, what is it?

MSA is an abbreviation for various terminologies, this has meaning in different fields, but, in the case of technology in the telecom industry, the term refers to the multi-source agreement.

This is an agreement by several manufacturers in the industry to create products from vendors with interoperability and interchangeability. Ergo, if device X made by OEM X and matching component XX from vendor XX are compliant with MSA standards, both will perform well. Some of the vendors in the alliance are the following:



In the optical fiber industry, the products that are MSA compliant include gear and elements. The old is extensive networking devices such as Ethernet switches, network interface cards (NICs), routers. Latter covers such as fiber optic transceivers, DACs and AOCs, etc. MSA makes these interfaces work well with each other because it is common in these products that the interface needs to plug into another port or to be plugged in by another product.

SFP MSA what does it determine?

MSA documents define transceivers from multiple dimensions, such as package dimensions, electrical connectors, labeling, DDM functions, etc.

Solving the issue that products made by different companies cannot be suitable for a system, branded networking manufacturers participate in the creation of this MSA standard. For example, System contributors to INF-8074i SFP MSA include Finisar, IBM, Agilent Technologies, etc.

The following lists the basic specifications that an SFP MSA defines.

Mechanical Interface

  • SFP Transceiver Package Dimensions
  • Mating of SFP Transceiver PCB to SFP Electrical Connector
  • Host Board Layout
  • Insertion, Extraction and Retention Forces for SFP Transceivers
  • Labeling of SFP Transceivers
  • Bezel Design for Systems Using SFP Transceivers
  • SFP Electrical Connector Mechanical Specifications
  • SFP Cage Assembly Dimension
  • Dust / EMI Cover

Electrical Interface

  • Pin Definitions
  • Timing Requirements of Control and Status I/O
  • Module Definition Interface and Data Field Description

Why are MSA standards important?

MSA standards create an open marketplace for SFP and SFP+ transceiver modules, providing customers with a better choice of products and more competitive pricing. This creates a higher degree of confidence in the SFPs you choose and significant cost savings.

The MSA standards have the assurance that SFP modules are identical in form factor and functionality to the equivalent, and meet the requirements of all networking equipment brands that follow the MSA standards.

Using third-party, MSA compliant SFPs offers all the benefits of the name-brand product, but offers more selection and competitive pricing. Meaning that you can  find a supplier who focuses on having the right product available at all times and at a fair price.

Types of SFP Transceiver

  • Classified by Applications: SONET/SDH SFP,FE/GE SFP,Fiber Channel SFP,CPRI/LTE SFP,Video SFP,CWDM SFP,DWDM SFP
  • Classified by Data rate: 155Mb,622Mb,1.25Gb,2.125Gb,2.5Gb,2.97Gb,3.07Gb,4.25Gb,6Gb
  • Classified by Distance: SX usually less than 2km, LX 10-20km, EX – 1310 nm or 1550nm for distances of 40km, ZX – 1550 nm for distances of 80km, EZX – 1550 nm for distances of 120~160km