One to watch: Multi-Protocol Label Switching

One network technology that looks set to take off this year is Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS). MPLS gives network...

One network technology that looks set to take off this year is Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS). MPLS gives network operators extra flexibility to divert and route traffic around link failures, congestion, and bottlenecks.

MPLS, a virtual Lan used to constrict usage within agreed limits, allows the service provider to offer guarantees on fine-grain, end-to-end network performance. It can deliver the quality of service required to support real-time voice and video as well as service level agreements that guarantee bandwidth.

Gartner analyst Eric Paulak believes the big network service for 2004 will be the mainstream adoption of MPLS as the primary wide area network technology. "What makes this new is that most carriers will actually start to offer end-to-end classes of service and some real-time self-servicing capabilities through their customer service portals," he said.

Apart from MPLS, Paulak did not expect any new types of service to be offered during 2004. He said the network operators would simply find new ways to repackage old services. "We do not expect much in terms of new services in 2004, but we do expect many existing services to take on new capabilities and go from niche to mainstream," he said.

"Ethernet access is one of these. Even though capital expenditure among the carriers is still low, money is being put into local fibre networks."

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