Network Course: MPLS and Carrier Packet Networks

MPLS and Carrier IP Packet Network Services is an online course dedicated to understanding the fundamentals of carrier packet networks, and the concepts and terminology surrounding MPLS and how it is used as a traffic management system for IP networks and services.

This elearning course can be taken on its own, or as part of the Certified Telecommunications Network Specialist (CTNS) certification package that includes six online courses covering the PSTN, Wireless, OSI Layers, Ethernet, IP networks, MPLS networks from Teracom Training Institute plus certification from the Telecommunications Certification Organization.

This course is also part of the Certified Telecommunications Analyst (CTA) certification package from Teracom.

Register today to benefit from this career-enhancing training plus all the benefits of TCO Certification!

Course Overview

We'll begin by understanding the basic structure of a carrier packet network and connecting to it, including the Provider Edge (PE) and Customer Edge (CE)… and why Provider Edge equipment is sometimes placed at the customer premise.

Next, we'll define Service Level Agreements, traffic profiles and Class of Service – how a service provider and customer define and agree on what the customer will get for their money on an overbooked bandwidth-on-demand packet network.

Then, we'll introduce the critical ideas of virtual circuits and classes of traffic, used as a powerful traffic management tool in all commercial packet data communication network

With the fundamentals in place, we'll run through the technologies, beginning with a very brief review of the first packet technology, X.25, to introduce a graphical method of tracing the flow of data from user to network to user in the framework of the OSI model, and concepts including reliable and unreliable service classes, and connection-oriented and connectionless network services.

Next, we'll understand what kind of guarantees are required to carry telephone calls in packets, and how ATM was supposed to be the answer to all of our problems… but became terribly complicated and expensive and is on the way out.

MPLS – essentially the IP world's implementation of virtual circuits – is now used by all carriers as a traffic management overlay on IP.

We'll first see how MPLS is the same idea as everything covered so far in the course (but with different jargon and buzzwords), cover that jargon, then see how TCP/IP is carried over an MPLS network.

Then we'll look at the uses that MPLS is put to in carrier networks:

  • How MPLS virtual circuits can be a Quality of Service mechanism to implement Differentiated Services: different service levels or Class of Service (CoS) including Expedited Forwarding for different types of traffic on the same packet network.
  • How MPLS is used to achieve service integration, sometimes called "convergence", with large cost savings for both customers and carriers.
  • How MPLS is used to aggregate similar kinds of traffic with label stacking: carrying virtual circuits on virtual circuits, to be able to manage all of the instances of a kind of traffic (e.g. telephone calls) as a single entity.

We complete the course with a discussion of terminology used in sales and marketing of MPLS services, and how that translates to reality... what exactly a salesperson is referring to when they say "MPLS services", and compare and contrast that to Internet service.


Course Lessons

  1. MPLS and Carrier Networks: Introduction
  2. Carrier Packet Network Basics
    Customer Edge, Provider Edge, Access and Core
  3. Service Level Agreements
    Traffic Profile and Class of Service
  4. Virtual Circuits
    Traffic Classes, Virtual Circuits and Virtual Circuit IDs
  5. X.25*
    Packet Network Protocol Stack, Connection-Oriented vs. Connectionless, Reliable vs. Unreliable Services
  6. QoS Requirement for Voice over IP
    How Packetized Voice Works and What is Needed
  7. ATM*
    Overview: ATM Objectives, Cells, Service Classes
  8. MPLS
    MPLS Components, Jargon, Basic Operation
  9. TCP/IP over MPLS
    Tracing File Download End-End, IP User-Network Interface, MPLS for IP Packets (VPN) or MAC Frames (VPLS)
  10. Differentiated Classes of Service using MPLS
    QoS, Traffic Classification, Diff-Serv: Multiple CoS
  11. Integration and Convergence using MPLS
    Carrying All Traffic On a Single Network Technology.
  12. Managing Aggregates of Traffic with MPLS Label Stacking
    Carrying Virtual Circuits on Virtual Circuits - Access and Core
  13. MPLS Services vs. Internet Service
    Similarities and Differences, Pros and Cons. The Future.

*Feel free to skip these lessons on X.25 and ATM. They are included a) for those who need to know about these technologies, and b) to show the progression of packet technology from data only (X.25) to data, voice and video (ATM) for those interested in the concepts and technologies that preceded MPLS. These subjects are not on the course exam.

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