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Why is MPLS considered as a Layer 2.5 networking protocol?

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MPLS is considered as 2.5 Layer protocol due to its special feature of LDP protocol. LDP stands for Label Distribution protocol. If the network is built up with MPLS network. Let us assume that A network is in some ABC location and Z network is in some XYZ location. Also, these A and Z networks... read more
MPLS is considered as 2.5 Layer protocol due to its special feature of LDP protocol. LDP stands for Label Distribution protocol. If the network is built up with MPLS network. Let us assume that A network is in some ABC location and Z network is in some XYZ location. Also, these A and Z networks are 10 to 20 hosp away from each other with redundant paths. When the initial packet from either A to Z or vice versa it will be using HARDWARE BASED PACKET FORWARDING using IP Routing table. After this, each route in the MPLS network will be logically linked with some kind of labels which understand by all MPLS routers. So after the 1st successful conversation between A to Z network or vice versa, the data/packet transfer will be based on Labels. So Routers doesn't want to look at the L3/Routing/Forwarding table every time for the packet forwarding. This increases the Router's performance and reduces the memory consumption with fast packet transmission. MPLS is seeking the help of IP routing table initially for the Label distribution for the respective routes and then after the Labels are just like the Layer 2 address. So MPLS is operating with the help of both Layer 2 as well as Layer 3, so this is why MPLS is called as Layer 2.5 protocol. read less
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Trainer

ha ha .. good question.. Layer - 2 is L2 Protocol.. MPLS essentially L2 Protocol but it has some additional stuffs includes.. thats the reason they are being called as 2.5 :)
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M.Tech in Electrical Engineering from IIT Kanpur

Well, it s pretty clear that it has no true network layer addressing and sits below the network layer. On the flip side, it clearly sits above the data link layer. So if it s between layer 3 and layer 2, we need another layer. Hence 2.5.
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