MPLS is a scalable, protocol-independent transport. In an MPLS network, data packets are assigned labels. Packet-forwarding decisions are made solely on the contents of this label, without the need to examine the packet itself.

What you need to know.

Protocols are an important part of sending and receiving information across the internet and different protocols exist for different telephony technologies.

The term multi-protocol means this type of service uses any kind of protocol – it’s not restricted to any particular type of protocol – hence, multi-protocol.

The uniqueness of MPLS vs. a regular VPN or other IP connection is its use of labeling. Voice and data get sent in packets so when those packets are received at the MPLS network, each packet is assigned a label. That packet actually gets assigned multiple labels – but one at a time as it progresses through the MPLS network from one end to the other.

As each packet travels from one “hop” to another (think of hops as stations), it checks in and drops off any needed information for processing and gets tagged with another label to replace the previously affixed one. Then it goes to the next station and repeats the process until the end.

Although extremely simplified above, that’s the basic gist. There are benefits to using an MPLS network, but not necessarily everyone needs it, and a regular SIP trunk with a VPN would suffice.

Here are some benefits that come with MPLS, many have to do with the way it is designed as explained above.

MPLS Benefits

Faster Speed: Due to the labeling technology, the speed of performing lookups for destinations and routing is much faster than the standard IP table lookups non-MPLS routers have to perform.

QoS: This is a big one. MPLS networks achieve greater Quality of Service for their customers. Quality of Service (QoS) means exactly that – you can expect a higher standard of service such as reliability, speed, and voice quality. This is for a few reasons, one already mentioned above.

In addition, MPLS networks are able to assign priorities to the different packets based on what the labels say about that packet. Packets with greater priority, voice over data for example, are given more bandwidth allocation. A packet that which is not deemed as high priority is given less. Obviously sending documents online don’t need to be assured of the same bandwidth required for someone who is wanting to have a conversation.

Faster Restoration: MPLS networks are also able to restore interrupted connections at a faster speed than typical networks. Obviously, this is a benefit.

Security: MPLS offers greater security and are often required for companies which need enhanced privacy and security for their network needs. Some industries like the Health Care and Financial industries are examples of industries mandated by Federal law to comply to specific requirements for network security.

If you are in one of these industries and need SIP, MPLS is a good option unless the provider can offer the proper forms of encryption.

24/7 Monitoring: Another benefit of MPLS is that the network is pro-actively monitored and managed at all times ensuring the extreme reliability and security.