Packet network's Swiss Army knife

With traffic volumes growing, operators have to carefully balance revenue and costs. For best results, each layer of the network needs to be optimized. Multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) can play a major role in achieving this – provided it is used correctly.

MPLS was created to improve packet performance in the core of the internet, but has been adapted for many other uses.

The growth of IP-based services requires end-to-end control of packet performance, so MPLS is being extended into optical packet transport networks.

The use – or not – of specific MPLS features raises issues in network design and planning.