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Milestone Achieved in Internet Carrier Network Standards - Multiprotocol Label Switching Transport Profile (MPLS-TP) Specifications Published

The Internet Engineering Task Force has reached a significant milestone in the specification of the Multiprotocol Label Switching Transport Profile (MPLS-TP). MPLS-TP enables the deployment of packet-based transport networks that will efficiently scale to support packet services in a simple and cost-effective way. This addresses carriers' need for efficiently supporting packet-based services and applications on their transport networks with guaranteed Service Level Agreements (SLAs). The published document suite listed in the chart below represents the core set of extensions to the MPLS family of specifications necessary to create MPLS-TP. The RFCs can be downloaded for free.

Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) was developed within the IETF in the late 1990s. MPLS is now widely deployed by most tier 1 carriers using MPLS as a key component of their core networks.

MPLS consists of a packet-forwarding paradigm, data encapsulation rules, and control/ management protocols. All of these were initially developed for use in IP-based networks (i.e., the Internet) with a "best-effort" packet delivery service. However, the rapid take-up of MPLS led to the development within the IETF of additional services, including traffic engineering (TE), enhanced management and diagnostic tools, and pseudowire (PW) connectivity by which transport connectivity could be provided over MPLS networks.

MPLS-TP is a new profile of MPLS, which includes key extensions to enable the deployment of MPLS technology in transport networks offering a reduction in complexity, and reduced deployment and operational costs for service providers.

These published documents for MPLS-TP were produced by the IETF's MPLS and PWE3 working groups, with more than 40 active editors and authors working on 20 documents. Areas covered in this document suite include the requirements and frameworks; architectural elements; a comprehensive set of transport-based operations, administration, and management tools for fault management and performance measurement; and a mechanism for linear protection. The MPLS-TP solution specified by the IETF is designed for complete interoperability and architectural compatibility with pre-existing MPLS, such that MPLS-TP is simply a profile of the MPLS toolset.

The open IETF process ensures that any interested person can participate in its work, know what is being decided, and make his or her voice heard on the issue. The IETF believes this collaborative approach leads to the development of an Internet that delivers the maximum value.