MPLS Circuit or Internet VPN for Business Communications?

Businesss with IP-enabled phones have a decision to make regarding the type of circuit medium they want to use. The two most popular choices are internet VPN and MPLS circuit. They both work, but have various pros and cons. Depending on your specific business needs, one system might work better or worse. Before making a decision, we’ll go over what you need to know about both types.

MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) is one method used by telecommunications networks to carry data. It directs data between network nodes based on short path labels instead of long network addresses. This is designed to avoid complex lookups in a routing table.

VPN (virtual private network) extends a private network across a public network, enabling individuals to use the public networks to send and receive data, but still keep their information private. It creates an encrypted connection between your device and a private server, preventing others from seeing or modifying what you do online.

Advantages and Disadvantages of MPLS
One big advantage is ability you have to put your data in different categories, each with its own priority level. If you prioritize voice traffic, your calls will have higher quality. This can apply to times of higher congestion, allowing you to get the highest performance possible where it’s needed most. Some MPLS providers offer customers SLA (service level agreement) which states what their service is expected to provide. If they don’t meet these requirements, you will get reimbursed. Traffic on MPLS is also segmented from other users, making it more secure.

The cost of MPLS is a big disadvantage. On average, it could cost up to five times the cost of an internet circuit. This type of service might not be available in your location. If you live in a remote area, it could be quite challenging to get the proper circuits installed.

Advantages and Disadvantages of VPN
The biggest advantage of VPN is the cost, as it is significantly lower the MPLS. This type is also more common in the US, and can be used for cable modem and wireless internet systems, resulting in more providers that offer MPLS services. If security is a concern, a VPN can be quite secure if patches are up to date and the system is properly configured.

Overall performance is the major disadvantage of using an internet VPN. Because VPN relies on various carriers across the internet routing information in different paths, it is more susceptible to jitter, which can result in decreased voice quality. This also prevents providers from offering a SLA because multiple carrier networks are used. There is no guarantee for the performance of your online traffic.

Both types have pros and cons, so now you need to decide which one has more pros for your business. If voice quality is crucial, and you can afford the added cost, it might be worth spending more for a MPLS system. If money is tight and you can deal with lower quality, VPN might be the choice for you.