Frame relay, a form of data networking based on packet switching, began in 1996. Because it's over 20 years old, it's outdated by today's standards. The major carriers have decided that frame-relay networks cost too much money to maintain, so they are slowly phasing them out.

Businesses that require a secure wide-area network are moving to MPLS virtual private networks (VPN). MPLS, or multiprotocol label switching, works by attaching labels to data packets. These labels direct routers where to forward the packets and speed up the transfer. And because the label-switching router only reads the first part of the packet instead of the whole thing, it quickly sends it where it needs to go.

There are many benefits of setting up an MPLS network. The first benefit is cost-effectiveness. MPLS networks are cheaper to set up and maintain than frame relay. An MPLS network only requires one link per branch. Consequently, it's more affordable to expand and is extremely flexible to add or remove locations. Another advantage is network redundancy. In case of an outage, the system routes data to the next best path.

One main feature of MPLS is Quality of Service, or QoS. In the broadest sense, QoS is a way to prioritize traffic. QoS is similar to having an express lane on the freeway. For example, if you have ever tried to make a phone call on a VOIP phone, you might have experienced some breakup in your phone conversation. The break-up is because your phone call is competing with other Internet traffic and packets get in the way. MPLS can prioritize voice, so the calls result in a much crisper, cleaner quality.

Another benefit of MPLS is that you can allocate bandwidth dynamically according to which traffic you want to prioritize. Also, MPLS supports protocol independent forwarding. Thus, MPLS reduces the number of hops the package travels.

For information about how MPLS VPN can help your business, contact TelWare at 1-800-637-3148 or TelWare is a national leader in the installation of voice, video, data and unified communication solutions. TelWare is an Authorized Avaya, Star2Star and SimpleWAN Dealer.

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