Multiprotocol Label Switching

Not sure exactly what MPLS is? Take a peek at our handy definition.

MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) is a standards-approved technology for speeding up network traffic flow and making it easier to manage. MPLS involves setting up a specific path for a given sequence of packets, identified by a label put in each packet, thus saving the time needed for a router to look up the address to the next node to forward the packet to. MPLS is called multiprotocol because it works with the Internet Protocol (IP), Asynchronous Transport Mode ( ATM), and frame relay network protocols. With reference to the standard model for a network (the Open Systems Interconnection, or OSI model), MPLS allows most packets to be forwarded at the layer 2 (switching) level rather than at the layer 3 (routing) level. In addition to moving traffic faster overall, MPLS makes it easy to manage a network for quality of service ( QoS). For these reasons, the technique is expected to be readily adopted as networks begin to carry more and different mixtures of traffic.
This was first published in September 2001

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