Multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) is a way to make IP routing over the internet faster and more efficient. In networks without MPLS, an internet router receives an information packet with a destination IP address, but no instructions on how that packet should be sent to its destination. Each time the packet contacts a new router, the router will make an independent decision on where the packet will be forwarded next, which can cause a noticeable lag in high-quality or time-sensitive applications.
How Multi-Protocol Label Switching Makes Online Processes Easier
MPLS improves routing delivery and response by establishing predetermined routes for different types of packets. Instead of forwarding a packet based on its final destination, MPLS systems “map out” the most efficient route for the type of information being sent, then sends it to the next point on the map to reach the final router. This ultimately makes the process much faster.
Generally speaking, routing through MPLS works by:
- Assigning FEC. The first time a packet enters the network, it is assigned to a specific forwarding equivalence class (FEC) based on its final destination and file type.
- Attaching a label. A short bit sequence called a label is attached to the packet containing the additional forwarding information that the router did not have. The label is removed at the final destination router.
- Streamlining the network. Each router in the network is configured to process packets of a specific FEC type. As a result, once the labeled packet is sent to its next destination, each router can route the traffic without analyzing the packet’s information or performing additional IP lookups because of the label.
- Improving consistency. MPLS networks have the ability to route and label packets grouped by certain characteristics, such as the point of transmission and the type of application. This allows packets carrying real-time information, such as voice over IP (VoIP) or videos, to be sent using low-latency routes across the network to be delivered without interruption.
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