PPPoE may be outdated


By Art Reisman

Art Reisman is  currently CTO and Co-Founder of NetEqualizer.  He  has worked at several start up companies over the years, and has invented and brought several technology products to market, both on his own, and with backing of larger corporations.  Including tools for the automotive industry.

We often get asked if we support PPPoE (Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet) through our bandwidth controller at this time.  We have decided not to support PPPoE.  What follows is our reasoning behind this decision.

First, some background on PPP.  Point-to-Point Protocal (PPP) is the protocol that was developed to allow the Internet to traverse through the phone system.  It converts digital IP traffic over a modem (analog phone circuit) into sound, and is essential when doing dial up because without it you could not have dial up internet service.  In other words, a phone line to a customer’s house cannot transmit IP packets directly, only audio sounds, so the PPP is a protocol converter that takes a series of sounds and transmits them over the line.  Similar to FAX, if you pick up the line and listen you will hear squealing.

1) We were not interested in building a PPPoE billing system and database.

I assume that since every dial up system also required billing and an authentication database, that somehow the PPP server, the thing that has a modem pool to talk over phone lines, also needs to integrate other aspects of the service to make a turn-key system for providers with Radius, billing etc.

2)There is no reason to continue legacy PPP in the new environment.

As providers transitioned from dial up to broadband wireless, in order to accommodate their legacy PPP server systems, they retrofitted their new wireless network with PPPoE modems at the customer site.   This was so the central PPP server would only need to transmit serialized sound data out of the lines as it had with phone lines.  It also served as way to preserve the legacy, dial up, connection mechanism that authorized users.

We believe that providers should transition from PPP to newer technologies, as PPP is becoming obsolete.

3)Operators are putting off the inevitable.

Now with the investment of these PPP servers integrating with the billing systems, we are where we are today. Even though there is no need to transmit data serially over the Ethernet, providers use PPPoE to preserve other aspects of their existing infrastructure which grew up when dial up was king.  This is similar to mainframe vendors trying to preserve their old screen-scrape technology when the Internet first came out, rather than move to the inevitable web GUI interface (where they eventually all had to go anyways).

4) Newer technologies are more efficient.

As far as I can tell, new wireless providers that do not do any traditional dial up are just creating overhead by trying to preserve PPP, as it is not needed in their circuit.  Generic IP and more modern forms of customer authentication such as MAC address or a login are more efficient.

Of course, you may disagree with our reasoning.  Please feel free to let us know your thoughts on PPPoE.

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