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Introduction to VPLS

VPLS is an Ethernet-based point-to-multipoint Layer 2 VPN. It allows you to connect geographically dispersed Ethernet local area networks (LAN) sites to each other across an MPLS backbone. For customers who implement VPLS, all sites appear to be in the same Ethernet LAN even though traffic travels across the service provider's network.

VPLS, in its implementation and configuration, has much in common with a Layer 2 VPN. In VPLS, a packet originating within a service provider customer’s network is sent first to a customer edge (CE) device (for example, a router or Ethernet switch). It is then sent to a provider edge (PE) router within the service provider’s network. The packet traverses the service provider’s network over a MPLS label-switched path (LSP). It arrives at the egress PE router, which then forwards the traffic to the CE device at the destination customer site.


In the VPLS documentation, the word router in terms such as PE router is used to refer to any device that provides routing functions.

The difference is that for VPLS, packets can traverse the service provider’s network in point-to-multipoint fashion, meaning that a packet originating from a CE device can be broadcast to all the PE routers participating in a VPLS routing instance. In contrast, a Layer 2 VPN forwards packets in point-to-point fashion only.

The paths carrying VPLS traffic between each PE router participating in a routing instance are called pseudowires. The pseudowires are signaled using either BGP or LDP.