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Ethernet MPLS Advantages
Ethernet MPLS networks offer cost and bandwidth advantages over other connectivity solutions

By: John Shepler

Two of the hottest voice, video and data networking technologies right now are Carrier Ethernet, also known as Metro Ethernet, and MPLS networks. But did you know that Ethernet and MPLS can work together to give you more bandwidth at lower cost?

Smoothing The LAN to WAN Interface
What Ethernet brings to the table is a way to avoid the big protocol speed bump that has traditionally existed at the demarcation point between customer network and telecom network. These two networks have very different historical development and would be completely incompatible were it not for some very clever interfacing. Today it is possible to transport packets from one LAN to another LAN via a telephony-based telecom network designed for voice channels, not datagrams. But why should you?

With Ethernet in the metropolitan and wide area networks, the speed bump between inside and outside networks disappears. Ethernet packets flow seamlessly down the line as far and the connections exist. Often that is right into a branch office or other remote site LAN owned by the same company. Metro Ethernet point to point line service makes it easy to interconnect business locations.

Layer 2 Bridging Available
Because it is Ethernet all the way, there is an extra advantage to Ethernet transport services. These connections can be set up to operate at the layer 2 switching level rather than layer 3 routing. That gives you the ability to connect your headquarters LAN to a branch office LAN or remote data center and create what amounts to a very large bridged network for your entire company.

So where to MPLS networks fit into this?
MPLS or Multi-Protocol Label Switching is a technology that accommodates just about any protocol. You can use it to transport telephone calls, data backups, video feeds, and anything else you need to get from point A to point B. In a way, an MPLS network is something like a postal or shipping service. It doesn’t care what’s in the boxes. It just gets them there on time and undamaged.

Carefully Engineered Cloud Networks
MPLS networks are an alternative to the public telephone network or the Internet. They are operated by telecom carriers with regional, national or international service footprints. What MPLS networks offer technically are carefully engineered network services with guaranteed bandwidth, jitter, latency and packet loss characteristics. What they offer economically are very cost effective ways to transport your sensitive voice, video and data with a high level of quality and security.

Now, combine Ethernet and MPLS and what do you get?
You get the performance and cost advantages of Ethernet connections from your business locations to the MPLS network cloud. Within the network, your Ethernet packets are transported transparently between locations. You simply specify what type of connectivity you want among the locations you choose and the service provider sets that up.

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