New Online Course L2114: MPLS and Carrier Networks

MPLS and Carrier Networks
MPLS and Carrier Networks
is a comprehensive training course designed to build a solid understanding of carrier packet networks and services, the terminology, technologies, configuration, operation and most importantly, the underlying ideas… in plain English.

This course can be taken by both those who need simply an overview and introduction to the fundamentals of carrier packet networks and MPLS, and by those who need to get up to speed and establish a solid base that project or job-specific knowledge can be built on.

We’ll cut through the buzzwords and marketing to demystify carrier packet networks and services, explaining Service Level Agreements, traffic profiles, virtual circuits, QoS, Class of Service, Differentiated Services, integration, convergence and aggregation, MPLS and other network technologies, and how they relate to TCP/IP without bogging down on details.

You will gain career- and productivity-enhancing knowledge of the structure, components and operation of carrier packet networks and services, how they are implemented, packaged and marketed by carriers and how they are used by government, business… and other carriers.

Net Neutrality – Foolish, ignorant or disingenuous?

The popular press and news feeds have been full of stories about advocates of “net neutrality” testifying to congressional committees, lobbying the federal government and railing against the big ISPs over the past while.  Not much mention of arguments against net neutrality, though.  It’s hard to decide whether those arguing for net neutrality are foolish, ignorant or disingenuous.  
 
Let’s begin with some definitions. When someone demands “net neutrality”, they usually mean that the network must not discriminate between applications being carried in IP packets; that identical transmission characteristics (throughput, delay, number of errors, etc.) are to be provided for all packets regardless of what is being carried in them. They claim (correctly) that this is not the case at present, that the network service provider is “throttling” certain applications, “slowing down” or “shaping” traffic and that this, in their opinion, must stop. They sound the rallying cry “the net should be free”. 
 
What a load of hogwash.
But are these arguments foolish, ignorant or disingenuous?  Hard to decide: 

Continue reading “Net Neutrality – Foolish, ignorant or disingenuous?”

Is the Internet a Public Utility?

Reading articles and blogs about Net Neutrality, one often sees the justification for government interference in the operation of IP networks to allow people stealing copyrighted works to consume bandwidth 24/7 at line speed “because the Internet is a public utility.”

It ain’t. The Internet is a business.

Reading articles and blogs about Net Neutrality, one often sees the justification for government interference in the operation of IP networks to allow people stealing copyrighted works using bittorrent (the net neutrality advocates) to consume bandwidth 24/7 at line speed “because the Internet is a public utility.”

It ain’t. The Internet is a business.

Continue reading “Is the Internet a Public Utility?”

Net neutrality – not. VideoTutorial on Service Level Agreements, traffic shaping and traffic policing

This video tutorial explains Service Level Agreements, traffic profiles, transmission characteristics, and how Differentiated Services (Diff-Serv) is implemented to be able to provide different transmission characteristics for different kinds of traffic – the EXACT OPPOSITE of net neutrality.

watch on youtube

When someone demands “net neutrality”, they usually mean that the network must not discriminate between applications being carried in IP packets; that identical transmission characteristics (throughput, delay, number of errors, etc.) are to be provided for all packets regardless of what is being carried in them. They claim (correctly) that this is not the case at present, that the network service provider is “throttling” certain applications, “slowing down” or “shaping” traffic (the correct term is “policing”) and that this, in their opinion, must stop.

This video tutorial explains Service Level Agreements, traffic profiles, transmission characteristics, and how Differentiated Services (Diff-Serv) is implemented to be able to provide different transmission characteristics for different kinds of traffic – the EXACT OPPOSITE of net neutrality.

It is taken from Teracom’s DVD video V9 Understanding Voice over IP 2: Voice Packetization • Voice Quality • Codecs, Jitter and Packet Loss • Diff-Serv • Network QoS with MPLS

 

ALL “NET NEUTRALITY” ARTICLES:

Net Neutrality – Foolish, ignorant or disingenuous?

Net Neutrality II: If the power company allowed this, your electrical bill would double

Net neutrality – not. VideoTutorial on Service Level Agreements, traffic shaping and traffic policing

Is the Internet a Public Utility?

 

Visit Teracom Training Institute for more information on telecommunications training and voip training

Net Neutrality II: If the power company allowed this, your electrical bill would double.

If “net neutrality” principles were applied to electricity, it would be like having no electricity meter. Everyone pays the same, regardless how much power they use. The problem: if you’re one of the 99% of normal users, you would have to pay DOUBLE what you normally would, to cover the costs of the 1% of users constantly drawing 200 amps 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Following up on a previous discussion, a demand for “net neutrality” usually means a demand that the network must not discriminate between applications being carried in IP packets; that identical transmission characteristics (throughput, delay, number of errors, etc.) are to be provided for all packets regardless of what is being carried in them.

But a demand for “net neutrality” is usually also wrapped together with a demand by these same people for no metering, no usage charges. This would mean that users who are continuously transmitting and receiving packets would pay the same flat rate as someone who is paying only for a typical traffic profile.

If this principle were applied to electricity, it would be like having no electricity meter. Everyone pays the same, regardless how much power they use. The problem: if you’re one of the 99% of normal users, you would have to pay DOUBLE what you normally would, to cover the costs of the 1% of users constantly drawing 200 amps 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Here’s how that would work:
Continue reading “Net Neutrality II: If the power company allowed this, your electrical bill would double.”

The IP-PSTN

The Packet-Switched Telecommunications Network

Over the past fifty years, several attempts have been made to develop converged networks: networks with “dial tone” that supports all communications: speech, music, text, graphics, images and video. For a number of reasons, convergence strategies employing ISDN and ATM were unsuccessful and did not gain critical mass. This time, it appears that packet-switched network service using IP will gain enough momentum to become the new kind of plain ordinary telecommunications service.

Continue reading “The IP-PSTN”

TCP/IP over MPLS

Following is a section from the new third edition of the Telecom 101 textbook, tracing the flow of information from server to client over a TCP/IP/MPLS protocol stack.

18.8 TCP/IP Over MPLS

MPLS is deployed for managing traffic on IP networks, and in conjunction with other technologies like VPNs covered in Chapter 19, will end up replacing all other services, including dedicated T1s, Frame Relay, ATM and ISDN.

Since MPLS is a virtual circuit technology, the packet flow from server to client over an MPLS network is similar to the Frame Relay flow examined earlier.

Starting with the server on the right, which is downloading a file to the client on the left, we take a chunk of the file and give it to the TCP software running on the server. That puts a sequence number, error check and application port number on the chunk of the file, passes this to the IP software on the server and starts a timer. The IP software adds the source and destination IP addresses to form an IP packet, which is put in an 802.3 LAN frame (that uses the 802.2 logical link layer protocol), with the MAC address of the premise router on the right pasted on the frame. The frame is then broadcast onto the Gigabit Ethernet over copper (1000BASE-T) LAN on the right and directed to the premise router by the LAN switch.

The premise router on the right brings in the LAN frame, extracts the packet and passes it to the routing software on the premise router, which makes a routing decision, puts the packet in a LAN frame, changes the MAC address, recalculates the error check and sends it over the Gigabit Ethernet over fiber (1000BASE-LX) access circuit to the service provider’s MPLS network.

diagram of TCP/IP/MPLS protocol stack

FIGURE 153  TCP/IP OVER MPLS

The service provider receives this packet with an ingress Label Switching Router (LSR). That device examines the IP address on the packet and along with other factors, decides what Forwarding Equivalence Class the packet belongs to, and implements its decision by labelling the packet with a 20-bit label identifying the FEC. It then does a table lookup to determine what network device packets with this label are forwarded to, and transmits the labelled packet in a frame on the appropriate circuit.

Each LSR in the middle of the network (not shown) brings in the frame, extracts the packet then only looks at the label and performs a table lookup to determine where to forward it and what priority to give it.

Eventually the labelled packet is delivered to the network’s egress LSR on the left. This device removes the label from the packet and uses conventional IP routing to send the packet in an Ethernet frame to the customer’s premise router on the left. 

The premise router on the left brings in the packet, and looks in a table to find out what MAC address (what LAN card) is currently assigned that IP address. If it does not find an entry, it broadcasts an address resolution request on the LAN at the left using the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP), asking “who owns this IP address?” The client responds with its MAC address. The premise router puts the packet in a LAN frame with that MAC address on the front, and broadcasts the frame onto the LAN at the left. The LAN switch on the left directs the frame to the client on the left. 

The client pulls in the frame, extracts the packet and gives it to the IP software on the client. Seeing that the destination IP address on the packet is the same as its address, the client’s IP software extracts the data out of the packet and gives it to the TCP software on the client. This checks the error check, and if it fails, discards the data. 

Shortly after, the TCP timer on the server times out, so the TCP software on the right retransmits the data. Let’s say the second time, it passes the error check at the client, so the client TCP software sends an acknowledgement to the server, then extracts the data from the TCP protocol data unit and parks it in a memory space for the application identified by the port number on the TCP header… the file transfer application, which picks up the data shortly after.

Meanwhile, we’re sending the next one.

 

Want more ?
There is, of course, much more to the story than this brief tutorial.

This discussion is actually the final discussion in a whole chapter that leads up to it, starting with bandwidth on demand and packet network fundamentals, ideas like virtual circuits and jargon like connectionless network services, then going through the technologies: X.25, Frame Relay, TCP/IP over Frame Relay, understanding what is needed for voice over packet networks, how Frame Relay doesn’t do it, but ATM was supposed to, then MPLS and how QoS is implemented with MPLS and finally the discussion above.

This topic is covered in more detail in Teracom instructor-led courses, DVD video Computer-Based Training courses, and textbooks.
Telecom 101 textbook, 3rd edition: Chapter 18 (26 pages)

Course 101 Telecom, Datacom and Networking for Non-Engineers
: Chapter 15
Course 110 Understanding IP Telecom: IP, VoIP and MPLS for Non-Engineers: Chapters 5, 8 and 13
DVD 4 Understanding Networking 1: Part 3

 



What is "Web 2.0"?

Teaching a class, a student asked me, “What is ‘Web 2.0′”? 

Having briefly scanned some online articles about it, I answered “It doesn’t mean anything. Just hot air”. 

Later, I did a bit more digging on “Web 2.0” and confirmed my initial take: hot air. 

In fact, I re-defined “Web 2.0” it in my mental storage system as: “Been there, done that.”

The term “Web 2.0” appears to have been coined during a “brainstorming session” between Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Media and MediaLive International. Presumably, the purpose of this brainstorming session was to create themes for a new commercial tradeshow. 

According to O’Reilly, they formulated a definition of Web 2.0 by example:

Web 1.0
  Web 2.0
DoubleClick
–>
Google AdSense
Ofoto
–>
Flickr
Akamai
–>
BitTorrent
mp3.com
–>
Napster
Britannica Online
–>
Wikipedia
personal websites
–>
blogging
evite
–>
upcoming.org and EVDB
domain name speculation
–>
search engine optimization
page views
–>
cost per click
screen scraping
–>
web services
publishing
–>
participation
content management systems
–>
wikis
directories (taxonomy)
–>
tagging (“folksonomy”)
stickiness
–>
syndication

The main theme: the web as a platform for applications. Second theme: collaborative efforts.

So Web 1.0 was the development and adoption of the browser, HTTP and HTML. Web 2.0 was the development of applications like Wikipedia that use it. 

Been there, done that, or what?

Let’s talk about Web 3.0 and 4.0!

At Teracom, we’re interested in getting you up to speed on the technology underlying today’s and tomorrow’s telecom products and services. 

Taking our acclaimed training, you’ll understand the concepts and ideas, mainstream solutions and how it all fits together.

For example: we’ll cover the idea of virtual circuits, how they are implemented in the IP world with MPLS, and how MPLS can be used to implement Quality of Service guarantees and Service Level Agreements in the IP world. 

… this is knowledge you can’t get from pundits or trade shows. Career-enhancing knowledge you can leverage going forward.

So let’s talk about the next two technology steps: 
call them Web 3.0 and 4.0 – or VoIP and IPTV. 

Web 3.0: The IP-PSTN 

Web 3.0 will have happened when the Public Switched Telephone Network and the Internet become the same thing.

You will know we have reached that point when you read that a telephone company has applied to its regulator to stop being required to provide analog POTS for new service orders. 

Broadband IP Dial Tone will be the new Plain Ordinary Telephone Service.

In this future, you won’t have analog telephone service. You’ll only pay for high-speed internet access – from the cable company, the telephone company or maybe some metro wireless or metro fiber outfit.

They’ll give you a drop wire / entry cable / wireless access plus an adapter which does the functions of Modem / UPS / Gateway / Edge router / Ethernet switch / NAT (a MUGEEN). 

You can plug this box into an existing phone jack and it will implement POTS on your inside wiring – dial tone, ringing, off-hook detection… 

The MUGEEN also has Gigabit Ethernet ports. You can plug it onto your LAN and it provides Gigabit Ethernet LAN switching in your house and access to the Internet for anything on the LAN. 

You can also plug in an Ethernet IP phone to do VoIP over the Internet. If you can set up a phone call by right-clicking on someone’s email address on your computer screen and choosing “Call” or “Talk”, then pick up the phone to use its microphone and speaker, you’ll know you have arrived at Web 3.0. Some people are already there!

Web 3.0 is covered in: 

Course 130, Understanding Voice over IP (2 days, for managers) and 

Course 110, IP Telecom: VoIP and the All-IP Network (3 days, for the more technically-oriented). 

Web 4.0: IPTV 

So if VoIP and broadband IP dial tone is Web 3.0, what is Web 4.0? 

Well, as a picture is worth a thousand words… 
video is next

HD video streaming from a video server to your video display over your 20+ Mb/s Internet connection. 

Subscribe to a package of “channels” or customize your own feeds via a web page. 

On the web page, search for, then download or stream and initiate the playing of any television show episode, movie, sporting event or other video that has been catalogued. 

Access this web page on-screen via a wireless keyboard, on your desktop or maybe see it on your wireless palmtop. Or just use a clicker. 

Much of the existing video will be archived somewhere on the Web. Content that is out of copyright or public license will be free. You’ll have to pay for new episodes of Lost. 

One milestone will be good-quality streaming of Standard Definition video (DVD quality, 480×720 pixels). You’ll know we are truly there when you can stream HD (1080×1920). 

You’ll get a good understanding of the network that will support Web 4.0 in Course 110, IP Telecom: VoIP and the All-IP Network. We’ll beef up the IPTV content in that course as the story progresses.