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I am trying to expand my knowledge of networking beyond the basics. I have started reading about PPP, and how it is used in DSL modems with PPPoE and PPPoA.

My first impression of PPP was "well that seems pretty similar to Ethernet". They are both data link layer protocols. They both have fields to identify the encapsulated protocol (e.g. IP). They both have related protocols to assign IP addresses (DHCP and NCP). So my first question was "so what's the point of PPP, why not just use Ethernet?". The answer to that was fairly straightforward - Ethernet is not supported over a wide range of media like serial lines, and is a fairly specific technology to LAN's using CAT5 or similar.

HOWEVER - then I was reading about PPPoE, and the obvious thought was "well if we are doing something over Ethernet, then Ethernet must be available and in use, so why not just use it?". In other words, PPPoE seems to be encapsulating one data-link layer protocol in another very similar protocol. Why do IP-inside-PPP-inside-Ethernet when we could just be doing IP-inside-Ethernet, and use DHCP rather than NCP to assign the IP address to the home router?


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closed as off topic by Sven, John Gardeniers, RobM, Chopper3, Greg Askew Apr 7 '12 at 17:54

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Like 10 years ago, one of the reasons was accounting (you'd buy a plan with 100hrs online/month :)

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I can't name a single PPPoE provider that allows a limited connection duration per month. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Apr 7 '12 at 13:11

That's because your connection is hiding a dirty little secret. While it may be running Ethernet, popular on star network topologies, it is, for all intents and purposes, a point-to-point connection. You would not be able to get an Internet connection unless the company on the other end of the link was your ISP. In order to allow for other providers, the connection is encapsulated in PPPoE/PPPoA and directed to the appropriate ISP for the actual Internet connection.

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I think you meant point-to-point. PPPoE is used when you want to implement a point-to-point connection over Ethernet. – David Schwartz Apr 7 '12 at 10:12
@David: Yes. Not enough sleep. – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Apr 7 '12 at 13:10

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