Who are the 10 best MPLS providers you should be comparing?
In this article, we've created a top, best list of 10 UK & Global MPLS providers with some specific data points to help your business understand why their solutions might represent a good option for your connectivity project. The comparison content applies to UK, US or Australian businesses requiring wires only or managed network (MSP) VPN (Virtual Private Network) service provider options. The following providers are all accessible from the Nefity platform, request pre-proposals, set budgets and request designs.
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Here is our list of the top & best UK & Global MPLS providers.
BT Business & Global Services
BT MPLS - BT Business and BT Global Services offer significant network reach both within the UK and in excess of 198 countries. With Managed MPLS solutions & services from their 24*7 Belfast NOC (Network Operation Centre), their core product revolves around Ethernet Point to Point Multipoint for Short Haul and Global VLL (Virtual Leased Line), MPLS, VPLS, SD WAN & Cloud Voice (hosted IPT SIP). BT is leading their SD WAN proposition with Cisco Meraki and Vipela, both of which are available with MPLS or Internet. BTs latest Broadband offering is an ideal failover proposition due to their 4G Assure product feature which represents an ideal IPSec VPN diversity option. BT offer several professional service solution options surrounding security with policies via leading platforms including Check Point and Fortigate. Security is available if clients wish to self-manage or acquire fully managed services.
COLT MPLS - COLT (City of London Telecom) provides data services to Mid-sized businesses across Europe, Asia and North America. Their core service offering revolves around managed WAN, high-speed Ethernet point to point & multipoint bandwidth services and Ethernet Internet leased lines. In addition, COLT also offers significant capability surrounding VoIP services (also for Carrier sales), Contact Centre and Unified Comms (UCAAS). Availability is across 28 countries with metro area networks within 49 major cities and direct fibre connections in 24,000 buildings worldwide. An interesting side point is their support which covers 16 languages globally.
GTT MPLS - Headquartered out of McLean, Virginia and listed as a Fortune 50 company with over 3000 employees and 60 offices worldwide. A Tier 1 network offering MPLS IP VPN circuits supported by 550+ PoPs worldwide in 100+countries. VPN service offerings are across the complete range of telecoms including SD WAN, MPLS, Ethernet Point to Point & Multipoint, Managed WAN, Cloud Services and Voice. The latest service provider data points from Netify suggest 2,500 local access providers for diverse, secure Global access. The ideal client for GTT surrounds software WAN with local DIA access and core Data Centre with MPLS.
Century Link (Level 3)
Century Link MPLS - A Global telco established in 1930 and one of the top 3 US communications providers, 2nd largest colocation company across the US, Fortune 159 with 17.9$ billion in revenue. Core products are across WAN, IP Voice, Optical, Contact Centre and SIP with support for hosting, Cloud and business continuity. Century Link also offers IT consulting and professional services.
Globalgig MPLS - Perhaps a lesser-known service provider when compared to the large telcos, Globalgig are based in Austin, Texas with a number of US offices together with a presence in London & Sydney. Services sold include managed wireless routers with mobile SIMs across 4G and 5G (shortly), ideal for high availability. Globalgig are recognised for their ability to aggregate traffic across satellite, fixed, wireless, broadband and dedicated MPLS circuits. Managed SD WAN is also offered via Cradlepoint, Peplink and Cisco Viptela. Hosted Voice and SIP services are offered Globally. The ideal customer profile suggests 20+ locations in the retail, healthcare/clinics, finance/banking.
Masergy MPLS - Global telco recognised for their exceptional backbone network across 85+ countries. Masergy is known for strong customer loyalty with a Net Promoter Score of 74 confirming their service offerings & retention rate. In recent years, their overall service has moved them from connectivity only providers to cloud providers which compliments their networking capability across SD WAN & Managed Services with Unified Cloud Communications via fully hosted Cloud UC, Intelligent SIP trunking and Cloud Contact Centre. The Masergy SLA (Service Level Agreement) supports less than 1ms jitter and 100% in-sequence packet delivery. Tools include Global on-demand network management for bandwidth and embedded real-time data analytics. QoS (Quality of Service) enabled Masergy circuits are ideal for Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform and IBM Bluemix cloud services.
Verizon MPLS - Verizon is a global provider with 57 world-class data centres. A leader in the Gartner magic quadrant for public Cloud IaaS, Managed Hosting and Managed Security. Verizon (formally WorldCom, UUNET) is typically known for their support or large Enterprise clients. Services sold include Cloud Compute (IaaS), Cloud Backup & DR-as-a-service, storage, Managed Hosting & Apps (SharePoint, SQL, Oracle), Hosted & Dedicated Exchange, Colocation and professional services across Security & network connectivity. The Verizon network is built on enterprise-class equipment from vendors including Cisco, HP, NetApp and EMC network elements.
Cogent MPLS - Cogent is a multinational Tier 1 ISP, ranked within the top 5 IP networks in the world. Their key products include DIA (Dedicated Internet Access), Ethernet Point-to-Point connectivity, VPLS (layer 2 MPLS IP VPN alternative) and colocation services. The Cogent proposition remains one of the most cost-effective methods of delivering layer 3 DIA, VPLS (P2P and VPLS) with colocation. Their on-net metro services are SLAs within a 17 business day delivery guarantee. A further interesting key feature and differentiator is their on-net pricing which is recognised as the lowest across the market.
Expereo MPLS - A recently founded service provider (2004), Expereo operate out of 8 offices globally with access to 200+ countries with their predominant service offered via Cisco edge for MPLS, Meraki, Viptela, Silver Peak and VeloCloud for SD WAN. The Expereo service is often offered as a high availability failover option for primary MPLS VPN due to their aggregation ability served by 3000+ Internet providers.
Telstra MPLS - A network spanning 250,000 miles with more the 2,000 PoPs in 200 countries and territories. Telstra is a great option for China MPLS via their status as the largest joint venture VPN provider in mainland China. In addition, their network is supported by 58 Data Centres across the Globe (25 of which are in Australia) and 40 satellites globally. MPLS is further enhanced with various connectivity types to support applications including IPL (International Private Line), EPL (Ethernet Private Line), EVPN (Point to Point or Multipoint VLL) with Cloud (Colocation, Public Cloud Infrastructure) and SIP.
Are MPLS solutions relevant in the world of public Cloud providers?
In recent times we've read a deluge of marketing content suggesting MPLS providers are essentially not required as a consequence of SD WAN capability. And yet, certain software WAN providers are using MPLS within their core networks to deliver their IP traffic on a global basis. The reason for this is because of the inherent properties of using private based MPLS connectivity which delivers end to end QoS, traffic engineering and privacy. With this in mind, an MPLS VPN should, where required, form a component of any good hybrid WAN design.
SD WAN is reducing the reliance on MPLS VPN connectivity but is the technology relevant in a world where the Internet is becoming the connection we all use on a daily basis due to the huge rise of cloud providers and their public based applications.
What are the technical benefits of an MPLS VPN network?
When evaluating MPLS VPN service offerings, the following typical benefits are applicable.
1. Qos (Quality of Service)
Class of Service is synonymous with MPLS WAN services as the main differentiator when compared to IPSec Internet VPN or SD WAN products.
While SD WAN is offering some fantastic local application treatment to support reliability across redundant cloud applications, an MPLS VPN service remains the only way to prioritise traffic on an end to end basis between CE (Customer Edge) devices between MPLS circuits with a robust SLA.
2. Privacy & Security
In many ways, we've arrived full circle from private technologies such as Frame Relay & ATM to Internet-based IPSec IP VPN, back to private MPLS and now to SD WAN which is essentially marketed as an advanced IPSec VPN. An MPLS VPN network circuit is inherently secure due to privacy as all MPLS circuits 'virtually' belong to each customer on their own private connection/routing table.
With this in mind, encryption is not typically required.
Is MPLS dead?
In 2013, Gartner wrote content suggesting that while MPLS will not disappear, the technology would form a component of hybrid networking as a crucial component of Enterprise WAN services. As of writing this article, we are seeing this prediction realised as companies continue to use MPLS where privacy and end to end QoS is required outside of secure IPSec VPN (SD WAN). We're also seeing MPLS augmented configuration with SD WAN technology to deliver the best of both VPN service options. There is no doubt that cloud applications are one of the main drivers behind the rise of SD WAN across Internet circuits. Cloud providers are enjoying the extra budget generated by WAN cost savings.
Cost of ownership is viewed as high vs Internet circuits and encryption (without considering network management) but readers should not this isn't always the case depending on country. An an example, pricing for MPLS within the UK vs Internet is not too different but the US remains more expensive when comparing MPLS vs Internet. MPLS is viewed as a less flexible technology, in part due to Internet facing Cloud applications, but also as a result of SD WAN providing built in security via next generation Firewall, Intrusion Protection, DDOS, Content filtering together with granular reporting functionality. The security aspect coupled with application path selection, optimisation and acceleration all begin to make sense as cloud services are public facing.
How does MPLS traffic engineering work?
Multi Protocol Label Switching is more of an internal service provider routing technology used, in the main, for MPLS traffic engineering to increase and improve performance of routing using MPLS label tags with pre-determined paths / traffic flows to control routed IP to make the most of available network elements & resources. When viewing configuration from a customer perspective, the business does not see the core MPLS network, rather each site appears as one hop away between CE devices.
The ability to traffic engineer is the basis behind CoS (Class of Service) because each MPLS provider can fully 'engineer' their networks to support customer MPLS traffic. Experimental bits are used for Quality of Service (QoS) to set your priority between customer premises equipment or marked by end devices such as an IP phone or even by the interface at the switch level. The forwarding of IP packets is based on the label which is associated with that particular path.
How much does MPLS cost?
The cost for MPLS depends on whether or not your business is looking at managed WAN services or wires only connectivity. In order to provide total cost of ownership examples, we've included some figures from Netify quick quote below to show what is achievable.
About Robert Sturt
Robert is the Managing Director of Netify, a Network Union brand. With experience working across WAN services since 1998, Robert brings a wealth of experience based on hard won knowledge. A writer for Techtarget.com and an experienced business strategist, Robert can bring a tonne of value to your project.