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PPPoE-Based Radio-to-Router Protocols Overview


Support for PPPoE-based radio-to-router protocols includes the following extensions to the PPPoE protocol:

  • Messages that define how an external device provides the router with timely information about the quality of a link connection

  • A flow control mechanism that indicates how much data the router can forward

The router uses the information provided in these PPPoE messages to dynamically adjust the interface speed. When OSPF is notified of this change, it adjusts the cost of the link and updates the routing tables accordingly.

The radio provides ground-to-ground or ground-to-air communications with like devices. When the radio picks up a signal from another device, it initiates a PPPoE session with a directly connected router. The PPPoE session encapsulates the packets that are relayed over a PPP link between the local and remote routers. The remote radio then forwards traffic over an independent PPPoE session between the remote radio and the router to which it is connected. The two routers exchange LCP and IPCP messages to configure the link and exchange OSPF messages to establish the network topology.

The router and radio are deployed in highly dynamic environments, such as moving vehicles. The quality of the radio link between the routers can vary significantly as a vehicle moves behind an obstruction. Each radio monitors the link every 50 milliseconds for changes in the link bandwidth, quality, and utilization. If any changes are detected, the radios announce the new set of metrics to the respective routers through a PPPoE Active Discovery Quality (PADQ) message, which is a nonstandard extension to the PPPoE Discovery Protocol [RFC2516]. The router transforms these metrics into a bandwidth value for the PPP link and compares it to the value currently in use. When the router detects that the difference exceeds a user-specified threshold, it adjusts the speed of the PPP link. An event message notifies OSPF of the change, which then triggers OSPF to announce any resulting routing topology changes to its neighbors.

The PPPoE-based radio-to-router protocol notifies the router about neighbors joining or leaving the network and to create and maintain OSPF adjacencies over the dynamic links established between them. The costs assigned to these links are based on network conditions and flow control information sent by the radios. The calculations and requests to update interface speeds are performed by routines in a common library.

When PPPoE is used for applications, such as mobile radio, the radio links have variable bandwidth. So a mobile radio can function in a PPPoE environment, PPPoE messaging includes PADQ messages, which enable a link cost to be propagated to OSPF through the evaluation of various link quality metrics. The router uses information from these notifications along with user-configured parameters to calculate interface link costs that are used by the routing protocols.

A radio can send an optional PADQ at any time to query or report link quality metrics. When transmitting PPP streams over radio links, the quality of the link directly affects the throughput. The PADQ packet is used by the radio modem to report link metrics.

To support the credit-based flow control extensions described in RFC4938, PPPoE peers can also grant each other forwarding credits. The grantee can forward traffic to the peer only when it has a sufficient number of credits to do so. Credit-based forwarding allows both sides of the session to agree to use a non-default credit scaling factor during the PADR and PADS message exchange. Although this is used on both sides of the session, this feature provides the radio client with a flow control mechanism that throttles traffic by limiting the number of credits it grants to the router.