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MPLS - Multi Protocol Label Switching Providers

MPLS Networks and Multi Protocol Label Switching Technology

MPLS began its life as a concept dreamt up by a group of engineers who wanted to improve the overall transfer of packets. The problem they ran into was that their idea relied on a single form of transmission to transport the information. Having a single transmission method negated the whole concept and for this reason a second company stepped in with a proposal involving similar ideas that did not require a single transmission method.

The new plan was named label switching and was incorporated by the IETF or internet enforcement task force. The IETF combined this technology with additional programs sent in by other companies and in the end created the multiprotocol label switching method used today. The new method has increased transfer rates because it no longer requires full inspection of packets.

This technology has been designed to allow packets housing multiple protocols to traverse a single path without complications. Making use of this new method allows companies to build a single VPN tunnel between two points to send information regardless of protocols or levels of OSI table involved. A bonus is less overhead and a reduced number of paths required for passing information through a network.

In the beginning the new methods were limited to software and thus were not overly useful. It was realized that hardware was required to effectively make use of this new technology and so LER and LSR models were created. The LER is a label edge router that resides at both ends of the tunnel and the LSR is a label switch router that is used to route the packets to the edge router devices.

LER devices are designed to sit at the ends of the multiprotocol tunnel and add a label when they receive the packet. When the label has been attached the packet is sent onto the LSR where the label is checked for its next stop information. At this point the label is removed and an updated one is applied so it can move on, if the packet is destined to go into another network the label is removed upon exit by the LER.

The LDP or label distribution protocol is designed to supply LER and LSR devices with appropriate labels so they have a visual layout for the network. This allows the two devices to forward the packets accurately and quickly thus reducing lost packet information. On a side note if an edge router receives a packet with a label it will add a second label.

The older systems that are based off of OSI layers can take upwards of a few seconds to return and that is very bad when using VoIP applications. The new system works in real time and has a recovery time of no more than 50 milliseconds which is a major improvement. Using the newer methods allow for quicker response times when problems occur.

With all the advancements being made including MPLS, the telecommunications industry is quickly improving. Having access to such methods is increasing performance for existing networks and reducing the number of additional required networks. The future of communications is only going to get better as engineers perfect older technologies and create new ones of their own.


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