PPP Multiplexing
RFC 3153

Document Type RFC - Proposed Standard (August 2001; No errata)
Authors Irfan Ali  , Rajesh Pazhyannur  , Craig Fox 
Last updated 2013-03-02
Stream Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF)
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Network Working Group                                      R. Pazhyannur
Request for Comments: 3153                                        I. Ali
Category: Standards Track                                       Motorola
                                                                  C. Fox
                                                           Cisco Systems
                                                             August 2001

                           PPP Multiplexing

Status of this Memo

   This document specifies an Internet standards track protocol for the
   Internet community, and requests discussion and suggestions for
   improvements.  Please refer to the current edition of the "Internet
   Official Protocol Standards" (STD 1) for the standardization state
   and status of this protocol.  Distribution of this memo is unlimited.

Copyright Notice

   Copyright (C) The Internet Society (2001).  All Rights Reserved.


   This document describes a method to reduce the PPP (Point-to-Point
   Protocol) framing overhead used to transport small packets over slow

1. Description

   The method, PPP Multiplexing, sends multiple PPP encapsulated packets
   in a single PPP frame.  As a result, the PPP overhead per packet is
   reduced.  PPP encapsulation (for example with PPP in HDLC framing)
   adds several bytes of overhead: a HDLC flag (at least one to separate
   adjacent packets), the Address (0xFF) and Control (0x03) field bytes,
   a two byte PPP Protocol ID, and the two byte CRC field.  Even with
   the Address and Control Fields negotiated off and the PPP Protocol ID
   compressed, each PPP encapsulated frame will include four bytes of
   overhead.  When PPP frames are tunneled, as in L2TP [1], the L2TP
   overhead per PPP frame is significant.

   The key idea is to concatenate multiple PPP encapsulated frames into
   a single PPP multiplexed frame by inserting a delimiter before the
   beginning of each frame.  The description of the delimiters is
   provided in Subsection 1.1.  The delimiters are used by the
   demultiplexor to separate the PPP frames within the multiplexed
   frame.  Each PPP encapsulated frame within the multiplexed frame is
   called a PPP subframe.

Pazhyannur, et al.          Standards Track                     [Page 1]
RFC 3153                    PPP Multiplexing                 August 2001

   During the NCP negotiation phase of PPP, a receiver can offer to
   receive multiplexed frames using the PPP Mux Control Protocol
   (PPPMuxCP), as described in Section 2.  Once PPPMuxCP has been
   negotiated, the transmitter may choose which PPP frames to multiplex.
   Frames should not be re-ordered by either the transmitter or receiver
   regardless of whether they arrive as part of the PPP multiplexed
   frame or by themselves.

   The scheme proposed is similar to the concatenated framing option
   [2].  The key differences are that PPP multiplexing is more efficient
   and that it allows concatenation of variable sized frames.  This is
   unlike concatenated framing which restricts all frames to be of fixed

   As with any concatenation scheme, the implementer has to consider the
   tradeoff between increased delay for multiplexing/demultiplexing and
   reduced packet overhead as the length of the multiplexed frame

   The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT",
   document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119 [7].

1.1. Payload Format

   The format of the complete PPP frame along with multiple subframes
   for PPP in HDLC-like framing [3] is shown in Figure 1.  Note that
   regardless of the order in which individual bits are transmitted,
   i.e., LSB first or MSB first, the PFF bit will be seen to be the MSB
   of a byte that contains both the PFF and the subframe length field.

   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+
   |       +P|L|     +       +     +   +P|L|     +       +     +     |
   |  PPP/ +F|X|Len1 +  PPP  +     +   +F|X|LenN +  PPP  +     +     |
   |  HDLC +F|T|     + Prot. +Info1+ ~ +F|T|     + Prot. +InfoN+ CRC |
   | Header+ | |     + Field1+     +   + | |     +FieldN +     +     |
   | (2-5) +  (1-2 ) + (0-2) +     +   +  (1-2)  + (0-2) +     + (2) |
   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+   +-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+-+

             Figure 1. Multiplexing subframes in a PPP frame.

   PPP Header:
        The PPP header contains the PPP Protocol Field for a PPP
        Multiplexed Frame (0x0059).  The PPP header compression
        options (ACFC and PFC) may be negotiated during LCP and
        could thus affect the format of this header.

Pazhyannur, et al.          Standards Track                     [Page 2]
RFC 3153                    PPP Multiplexing                 August 2001

   Length Field:

     The length field consists of three subfields:

      1. Protocol Field Flag (PFF):
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