In a frame relay network, FECN (forward explicit congestion notification) is a header bit transmitted by the source (sending) terminal requesting that the destination (receiving) terminal slow down its requests for data. BECN (backward explicit congestion notification) is a header bit transmitted by the destination terminal requesting that the source terminal send data more slowly. FECN and BECN are intended to minimize the possibility that packets will be discarded (and thus have to be resent) when more packets arrive than can be handled.
If the source terminal in a communications circuit generates frequent FECN bits, it indicates that the available network bandwidth (at that time) is not as great as can be supported by the destination terminal. Likewise, if the destination generates frequent BECN bits, it means the available network bandwidth (at that time) is not as great as can be supported by the source. In either case, the root cause is lack of available bandwidth at the times during which FECN or BECN bits are generated. This can occur because of outdated or inadequate network infrastructure, heavy network traffic, high levels of line noise, or portions of the system going down. Identifying and resolving these issues can improve overall network performance, especially when the system is called upon to carry a large volume of traffic.