MPLS Network: How Does It Work?

The entire network today has expanded and there emerge faster Ethernet switch like gigabit Ethernet switch and even 10gb switch which provide us with higher information switching speed. However fast they can forward the data packets, they still undergo complicated procedures. Now there is a way to simplify the data forwarding while maintaining the high forwarding speed. That is the MPLS network.

What Is MPLS Network?

MPLS stands for Multi-Protocol Label Switching. It is a system for fast packet switching and routing that provides the ability to target, route, forward, and exchange network traffic. In most cases, MPLS is regarded operating at Layer 2.5 as it enables data packets to be forwarded at layer 2 rather than layer 3. MPLS is a packet-labeling technique that can map IP addresses to simple fixed-length labels for different packet forwarding and packet switching techniques. MPLS can provide applications including VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), traffic engineering (TE) and Quality of Service (QoS). So we know that MPLS is a packet-labeling technique that prioritizes data, but how does it actually work?

How Does the MPLS Network Work?

In MPLS network, packets are directed through the network based on an assigned label. People tag some packets with certain markings. We can compare the packet to the shipping crate that ships something between two locations. If at every stop, the shipping company needs to open the box to figure out what it is and where it’s going to, it will cost a lot of time and energy. Now if we put the label outside indicating where the packet goes from and to, then whatever shipping company see it will know how to deal with it without opening it.

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The basic component of MPLS network is label switching router (LSR). An ingress router with MPLS will label data packets (mail packages) on entry to the network (post office), so routers (mail workers) know exactly where the data is going to without having to open the package again and again. The transit router in the MPLS domain transmits the packet to the egress LER according to the label along the label switching path (LSP) consisting of a series of LSRs. Finally, the egress router that resides at the exit is responsible for stripping the label from the packet and forward it to the destination. In a word, transit router switch the data packet according to the attached label, while egress and ingress routers work for the transformation between MPLS and IP technology.

Advantages of MPLS Network

Here, some people may say “MPLS is indeed a good thing, but why should I bother to change to it as my current network runs well?”. This part will tell the advantage of using MPLS network.

First, regarding its cost, it is a cost-effective solution. Multiprotocol Layer Switching (MPLS) is an extremely scalable mechanism for high performance telecommunication networks. It allows for inter-connectivity growth of your network with minimal addition of hardware. An MPLS network uses communications via a cloud based network with each node connecting to the network providers MPLS cloud, which allows for adding new remote connections without the requirements of adding hardware at your primary site.

Second, let’s see its performance. It provides alternative network paths to improve up-time and reduce network congestion. It also allows for multiple traffic types to traverse the network, thus improving bandwidth utilization. It can also improve end user experience by allowing multiple classes of services to different types of traffic such as VOIP.

Third, one of the most notable benefits of MPLS is that it is applicable to any network layer protocol. It supports transport over Internet Protocol (IP), Ethernet, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) and frame relay; any of these protocols can be used to create an LSP.


In a nutshell, MPLS was originally put forward to improve forwarding speed. It decreases the forwarding overhead on the core routers. To make full use of it, you can go to the website and consult our experts. FS not only provides top-notch Ethernet switch but also first-class solutions.