Wondering How a Multi-Protocol Label Switching Works?


Multi-protocol label switching is not a service but a technique through which one can create anything ranging from the VPNs to Ethernet, however, it is a bit expensive than the internet. Have you ever tracked a package you ordered online from a retailer? You will figure out that it makes strange and illogical stops all over the country before reaching you, routing on the internet works the same way too.

A packet received by an internet protocol router just has the location of the destination attached to it while there are no instructions on how the packet will reach the target destination i.e. how many stops will it make, and which route will it take. Each router the packet stops at makes an independent decision on how to forward the packet based on the network. Every time a router receives a packet, it thinks through on where to forward the packet via complex routing tables.

The same process carries on until the packet is delivered to its destination resulting in slow performance especially on real-time applications like video calling and voice over IP. Multi-protocol label switching tries to address this issue by defining the routes as a pre-requirement to improve efficiency. With an mpls, a packet assigned to FEC (forwarding equivalence class) enters the network, it is assigned to a specific forwarding equivalence class (FEC) through a short bit sequence called the label which is attached to the packet the first time it enters the network.

Multi-protocol label switching can treat the same kind of packets in a similar fashion such as packets coming from a port or application type. This makes it easy to route real-time traffic to low-latency routes on the network which is difficult to be achieved through conventional routing. It is the labels that provide the ability to attach additional information to a packet. Multi-protocol label switching domain uses two kinds of routers as follows:

Label Switch Router – works at the core level. Label Edge Router – works on network’s edge where Internet Protocol networks and multi-protocol label switching network meet. Label edge router works as a bridge between the internet protocol network domain and multi-protocol label switching domain. It works both as an ingress and egress router, when it receives a packet from the IP domain.

Benefits of Multi-Protocol Label Switching

There are a lot of benefits of Multi-Protocol Label Switching including performance, bandwidth optimization, scalability, less network crowding, and better overall user experience. Although it does not provide for encryption, since it is a VPN (virtual private network), it is more secure than public internet connection making it a secure information transfer mode.

Limitations of Multi-Protocol Label Switching

If we look at the limitations, Multi-Protocol Label Switching is a lot more expensive as compared to Internet. With globalization, it might be difficult for multinational companies to a service provider with global coverage. Global coverage is generally achieved through partnerships with service providers in different countries making it even costlier.

Hattie B. Trosclair


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