What is the MPLS network and how does it work?

What is the MPLS network?


Multiprotocol Label Switching, or MPLS, is an emerging and leading technology used for data forwarding as it highly increases the speed and greatly controls the flow of the network traffic.

If we talk about it in a more specific sense, MPLS has become widely popular in recent times as it directs data through a path using labels rather than putting to use complex data transfer techniques that require consulting a routing table at every stop.


what is MPLS network

   image credit: techtarget


An MPLS network layer sits at Layer 2.5, meaning it falls between Layer 2, the Data Layer, and Layer 3, the Networking Layer, ultimately giving this technique more advanced features.

Thus it is easy to understand that since MPLS is scalable and efficient, more and more organizations that have multiple branches are starting to use MPLS technology.

But, to understand a new emerging technology we need more than just its definition. We need to understand the “How” to understand the “what”. Thus we will explain how MPLS works to break down what MPLS exactly is.



As we have already discussed, MPLS is not your traditional data forwarding technique that uses IP addresses.

Rather, MPLS is a packet-forwarding technology that uses labels to make data-forwarding decisions. And each packet entering an MPLS network is labelled with a locally significant MPLS label.

Thus, instead of using the basic hop-by-hop method of packet transferring, direct paths are established for particular source-destination pairs.

These pre-determined paths established by MPLS are called label-switched paths (LSPs) and are an integral part of sending data.


how does MPLS work

Image credit: medium


So to better understand, we can say that, data packets are redirected by assigning labels and passing them through these LSPs.

Each label is associated with a predetermined route that we have previously mentioned as paths. As the packet passes through the path, each router on the path uses the label to determine where the datagram should be redirected and routed.

And that is how MPLS transfers the data, However, this does not mean that it does not have any cons. Since MPLS is a new technology, it has both pros and cons.  Hope you got clarity on why MPLS is used. Let’s look at some of Pros and cons of MPLS.




Advantages of MPLS

  1. This technology is dynamic, scalable, and versatile with the better performance
  2. it is separated from the public Internet thus it provides some level of protection and security to your company’s data.
  3. It is not easily vulnerable to DOS attacks, which can affect IP-based routing.

Disadvantages of MPLS

  1. MPLS requires a purchasing carrier frequency to use it in a network. Which makes it a costly mechanism to be implemented for now.
  2. It does not provide global coverage and thus does not fully support your organization’s expanding infrastructure.
  3. It is not suited for branch offices that directly wish to access the data available on the cloud.



So, as you can see that as much as MPLS seems to be a golden egg in the present day, it does not fully cover your demands. However since it is a growing technology, we have faith in its upgradations.

And that was our beginner’s guide to MPLS and its functionality! We hope you enjoyed and learned something fruitful from it!



See alsoWhat is SD-WAN? And used of Software Defined WAN


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