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PPPoE Overview


The Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE) connects multiple hosts on an Ethernet LAN to a remote site through a single customer premises equipment (CPE) device. Hosts share a common digital subscriber line (DSL), a cable modem, or a wireless connection to the Internet.

To use PPPoE, you must configure the router as a PPPoE client, encapsulate PPP packets over Ethernet, and initiate a PPPoE session.

M120, M320, and MX Series routers can be configured as a PPPoE access concentrator server. To configure a PPPoE server on an M120, M320, or MX Series Ethernet logical interface, specify PPPoE encapsulation, include the pp0 statement for the pseudo PPPoE physical interface, and include the server statement in the PPPoE options under the logical interface.


PPPoE encapsulation is not supported on M120, M320, or MX Series routers on an ATM2 IQ interface.

Multiple hosts can be connected to the Services Router, and their data can be authenticated, encrypted, and compressed before the traffic is sent to the PPPoE session on the Services Router’s Fast Ethernet or ATM-over-ADSL interface. PPPoE is easy to configure and enables services to be managed on a per-user basis rather than on a per-site basis.

This overview contains the following topics:

PPPoE Interfaces

The PPPoE configuration is the same for both interfaces. The only difference is the encapsulation for the underlying interface to the access concentrator:

  • If the interface is Fast Ethernet, use a PPPoE encapsulation.

  • If the interface is ATM over ADSL, use a PPPoE over ATM encapsulation.

The PPPoE interface on M120 or M320 routers acting as a access concentrator can be a Gigabit Ethernet or 10-Gigabit Ethernet interface.

Ethernet Interface

The Services Router encapsulates each PPP frame in an Ethernet frame and transports the frames over an Ethernet loop. Figure 1 shows a typical PPPoE session between a Services Router and an access concentrator on the Ethernet loop.

Figure 1: PPPoE Session on an Ethernet Loop
PPPoE Session on an Ethernet Loop

PPPoE Stages

PPPoE has two stages, the discovery stage and the PPPoE session stage. In the discovery stage, the client discovers the access concentrator by identifying the Ethernet media access control (MAC) address of the access concentrator and establishing a PPPoE session ID. In the PPPoE session stage, the client and the access concentrator build a point-to-point connection over Ethernet, based on the information collected in the discovery stage.


If you configure a specific access concentrator name on the client and the same access concentrator name server is available, then a PPPoE session is established. If there is a mismatch between the access concentrator names of the client and the server, the PPPoE session gets closed.

If you do not configure the access concentrator name, the PPPoE session starts using any available server in the network.

PPPoE Discovery Stage

A Services Router initiates the PPPoE discovery stage by broadcasting a PPPoE active discovery initiation (PADI) packet. To provide a point-to-point connection over Ethernet, each PPPoE session must learn the Ethernet MAC address of the access concentrator and establish a session with a unique session ID. Because the network might have more than one access concentrator, the discovery stage allows the client to communicate with all of them and select one.


A Services Router cannot receive PPPoE packets from two different access concentrators on the same physical interface.

The PPPoE discovery stage consists of the following steps:

  1. PPPoE active discovery initiation (PADI)—The client initiates a session by broadcasting a PADI packet on the LAN to request a service.

  2. PPPoE active discovery offer (PADO)—Any access concentrator that can provide the service requested by the client in the PADI packet replies with a PADO packet that contains it own name, the unicast address of the client, and the service requested. An access concentrator can also use the PADO packet to offer other services to the client.

  3. PPPoE active discovery request (PADR)—From the PADOs it receives, the client selects one access concentrator based on its name or the services offered and sends it a PADR packet to indicate the service or services needed.

  4. PPPoE active discovery session-Confirmation (PADS)—When the selected access concentrator receives the PADR packet, it accepts or rejects the PPPoE session.

    • To accept the session, the access concentrator sends the client a PADS packet with a unique session ID for a PPPoE session and a service name that identifies the service under which it accepts the session.

    • To reject the session, the access concentrator sends the client a PADS packet with a service name error and resets the session ID to zero.

PPPoE Session Stage

The PPPoE session stage starts after the PPPoE discovery stage is over. The access concentrator can start the PPPoE session after it sends the PADS packet to the client, or the client can start the PPPoE session after it receives a PADS packet from the access concentrator. A Services Router supports multiple PPPoE sessions on each interface, but no more than 256 PPPoE sessions on all interfaces on the Services Router.

Each PPPoE session is uniquely identified by the Ethernet address of the peer and the session ID. After the PPPoE session is established, data is sent as in any other PPP encapsulation. The PPPoE information is encapsulated within an Ethernet frame and is sent to a unicast address. In this stage, both the client and the server must allocate resources for the PPPoE logical interface.

After a session is established, the client or the access concentrator can send a PPPoE active discovery termination (PADT) packet anytime to terminate the session. The PADT packet contains the destination address of the peer and the session ID of the session to be terminated. After this packet is sent, the session is closed to PPPoE traffic.

Optional CHAP Authentication

For interfaces with PPPoE encapsulation, you can configure interfaces to support the PPP Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol (CHAP). When you enable CHAP on an interface, the interface can authenticate its peer and be authenticated by its peer.

If you configure an interface to handle incoming CHAP packets only (by including the passive statement at the [edit interfaces interface-name ppp-options chap] hierarchy level), the interface does not challenge its peer. However, if the interface is challenged, it responds to the challenge. If you do not include the passive statement, the interface always challenges its peer.

For more information about CHAP, see Configuring the PPP Challenge Handshake Authentication Protocol.