Enterprises today have numerous options to decide from while establishing connectivity between different offices or network elements. MPLS and leased line connectivity are two most popular technologies as most internet service providers recommend one of these two solutions to their clients. However, deciding between them can often result in more confusion. Therefore, it is essential to understand the difference between MPLS and internet leased line connectivity to know and understand the ideal option. This article seeks to explore the functionality, benefits, and drawbacks of each of these technologies before highlighting their differences.
Multiprotocol Label Switching or MPLS is a routing technique that is widely used by enterprise networks to ensure scalability and availability. This technology is deployed in IP-only networks to achieve traffic engineering and high-performance traffic forwarding.
The increasing need for faster packet routing gave rise to MPLS in the 1990s. Today, MPLS is capable of encapsulating the network layer grouping along with short as well as long labels. In spite of developments and improvements in hardware technology over the years, MPLS may have lost its initial purpose, but its numerous other characteristics have ensured that this technology remains a popular option for enterprises looking at reliable network access.
In an MPLS setup, each data packet is assigned a label and all packet forwarding decisions are based on this label. This eliminates any need to examine the contents of the packet and users can create comprehensive circuits across different types of transports with any protocol. This characteristic also reduces the network’s dependence on one specific data link layer technology like ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) Ethernet, or SONET (synchronous optical networking).
MPLS is usually termed as layer 2.5 protocol as the layer in which it operates lies between layer 2 or the data link layer and layer 3 also known as the network layer. The packet labels are associated with a predetermined path as they transverse through the network. Users can define these paths with respect to different QoS features and priorities. In other words, MPLS allows users the control of network routing by creating paths that function like point-to-point connections within your network while being flexible at the same time.
It is clear from the manner in which MPLS Network technology works that it is designed to increase efficiency while reducing the overall cost. Some other prominent benefits of MPLS are as follows:
MPLS certainly has a major drawback as the network control remains with the service provider. The service provider is responsible for routing data through the network and the customers can only define the QoS and how the traffic is prioritized.
Internet leased connectivity is best understood as a private telecommunication circuit that is established between two or more than two locations as defined in the commercial contract between the customer and the service provider. Leased lines are most commonly used by organizations to establish internet connectivity between their distant geographical offices as they are capable of spanning across long as well as short distances.
Leased line services were first digitized in the 1970s from analog to digital circuits. This allowed service providers like AT&T to offer digital data services that initiated the onset of ISDN and T1 lines. In the 1980s, leased lines were also used to connect customer locations to ATM networks or frame relay networks. In the next decade, this technology was used to connect client locations with the ISP’s point of presence.
As the name suggests, internet leased lines are ‘leased’ by the organization, therefore, it can guarantee bandwidth availability to the customer. The plans are essentially rented by the client for high-speed internet connectivity between locations. Internet leased lines are able to deliver high-speed internet as they are typically made using pure fiber optics. They work by sending across pulses of light through these cables and the transmitted data is capable of traveling at the speed of light. Further, the leased line connectivity is dedicated entirely to the customer and is not shared by anyone else.
A leased line connection comprises two portions – the line speed and the bearer speed. The line speed is typically symmetric in nature meaning that the upload and download speeds are the same. The bearer speed, on the other hand, is the maximum speed that can be reached by the fiber optic line. This ability makes it easy for you to increase your bandwidth as your business requirements grow.
Typically, an internet leased line plan charges a fixed fee every month depending on the end customer requirements. However, this can be a very expensive proposition. Hence, organizations that are not heavily reliant on high-speed internet end up selecting more affordable options like internet broadband over coax or DSL.
Irrespective of their size, it is nearly impossible for businesses to function without an internet connection in these technology-driven times. Internet leased lines are an effective way of achieving this and three main benefits include:
It is nearly impossible to find a technology without certain disadvantages and internet leased line connectivity is no aberration. Cost is the biggest drawback followed by security, when considering leased line connectivity as there are various internet connections that are available at much lower costs. However, if your business operations require dedicated bandwidth and consistent upload and download speeds, then internet leased lines are one of the best options available.
There are 5 key factors to consider when determining the difference between MPLS and internet leased line connectivity. These include cost, reliability, security, scalability, and business requirements. Both technologies cater differently to each of these points. This comparison is discussed in more detail below.
Leased lines are certainly a more expensive form of network communication in comparison to MPLS. But this is mainly because leased line connectivity offers dedicated internet networks to users.
Because of their dedicated nature of the operation, leased lines offer high-availability services that are governed by SLAs. MPLS, on the other hand, offers reliable services in the way it routes traffic and ensures network availability.
Internet leased line network connectivity is more secure than MPLS because they cater to the traffic from a single customer and the network is not shared with anyone else. MPLS, on the other hand, relies on shared networking elements and does not have inbuilt encryption capabilities.
Leased lines can be more expensive and time-consuming to implement limiting their capability to scale up. In contrast, MPLS is a highly efficient technology that can be scaled without investment in time and expensive hardware.
Leased lines are designed to offer dedicated point-to-point connectivity. Therefore, they are not designed to cater to complex network requirements. MPLS can offer both one-to-many and point-to-point connectivity thereby, catering to multiple business requirements.
Interestingly, MPLS can be used for creating virtual leased lines and provide connectivity to users irrespective of the connection types available at the two locations. However, internet leased line networks cannot emulate the MPLS model. This flexibility is a major point of difference between MPLS and internet leased line networks. However, if business requires dedicated connection with high upload speeds and security, then internet leased lines score over MPLS. Therefore, while there is a significant difference between MPLS and internet leased line models, the selection should be based on your specific requirements and budget.
For more clarity, we at CarrierBid can help you assess your current and future network requirements to arrive at a more informed decision. You can contact us directly or fill in the form below and our experts will get in touch with you for an initial consultation.