MPLS - Multi-Protocol Label Switching. MPLS is a controversial technology for routing TCP/IP packets. MPLS allows packets of various technologies (e.g. ATM, frame relay, etc) to share an Internet Protocol backbone line. Proponents of MPLS feel that it is inexpensive and adequately secure. Opponents feel that MPLS will introduce substantial routing problems that will result in unencrypted data packets being delivered to unintended destinations.

MPLS is backed by Cisco, Juniper Systems and AT&T.

The key issue appears to be the handling of Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routing tables required by MPLS when supporting Virtual Private Networks. The implementation defined in RFC2457 requires that BGP routing tables be maintained at every site where packets might be originated or delivered. Many analysts feel that in a few years, it will become impractical to maintain RFC2457 BGP tables. Alternatives to RFC2457 VPNs that might be more tractable are being investigated.

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