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State of the market for MPLS

MPLS is now on the market, many of the proposed standards are working, it works at the Inter-op bake-offs, and systems are going in around the world. Is MPLS now overtaking ATM in the market place? As new networks are being added, do they choose MPLS over ATM? What are the new MPLS standards, and do they help MPLS in the market place?
"Is MPLS now overtaking ATM in the marketplace?"
In fact, the opposite would seem to be true. ATM is now resurgent as the RBOCs reassert their control over the market as the "new generation" competitors die. ATM allows for very fine control of traffic, has mature OAM systems and is well understood by the all levels of telco bureaucracy.

"As new networks are being added, do they choose MPLS over ATM?"
Depends on who you are. If you own the fiber and the local loop, you would generally choose ATM. You get the best return on your investment. If you are a value-added telco, you choose MPLS so you can integrate many different underlying infrastructures (maybe Ethernet, maybe DWDM, whatever). You lose a lot of bandwidth to overheads and you invest a lot of cash into an OAM system that you hope will work. Plus, you have to pray that the equipment vendors will actually get a working implementation, and hopefully it will work in real life. And then go looking for enough talented engineers to get it working. MPLS is probably going to be more successful for DWDM, but with the current capital deficit it doesn't seem likely that much of that will be deployed for a while yet.

"What are the new MPLS standards and do they help MPLS in the marketplace?"
The new standards mainly relate to issues like QoS, billing and SS7 integration. Without them MPLS isn't likely to go very far, because it can't deliver true value-added services, which is what MPLS was supposed to achieve.

This was last published in July 2002

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