PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol)

In computer networking, Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) is a data link layer (layer 2) communications protocol used to establish a direct connection between two nodes. It connects two routers directly without any host or any other networking device in between. It can provide connection authentication, transmission encryption, and compression.

PPP is used over many types of physical networks including serial cable, phone line, trunk line, cellular telephone, specialized radio links, and fiber optic links such as SONET. Internet service providers (ISPs) have used PPP for customer dial-up access to the Internet, since IP packets cannot be transmitted over a modem line on their own, without some data link protocol.

Two derivatives of PPP, Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE) and Point-to-Point Protocol over ATM (PPPoA), are used most commonly by ISPs to establish a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Internet service connection with customers.


PPP is commonly used as a data link layer protocol for connection over synchronous and asynchronous circuits, where it has largely superseded the older Serial Line Internet Protocol (SLIP) and telephone company mandated standards (such as Link Access Protocol, Balanced (LAPB) in the X.25 protocol suite).

The only requirement for PPP is that the circuit provided be duplex. PPP was designed to work with numerous network layer protocols, including Internet Protocol (IP), TRILL, Novell’s Internetwork Packet Exchange (IPX), NBF, DECnet and AppleTalk. Like SLIP, this is a full Internet connection over telephone lines via modem. It is more reliable than SLIP because it double checks to make sure that Internet packets arrive intact. It resends any damaged packets.

PPP was designed somewhat after the original HDLC specifications. The designers of PPP included many additional features that had been seen only in proprietary data-link protocols up to that time. PPP is specified in RFC 1661.

RFC 2516 describes Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE) as a method for transmitting PPP over Ethernet that is sometimes used with DSL. RFC 2364 describes Point-to-Point Protocol over ATM (PPPoA) as a method for transmitting PPP over ATM Adaptation Layer 5 (AAL5), which is also a common alternative to PPPoE used with DSL.

PPP is a layered protocol that has three components:

  • An encapsulation component that is used to transmit datagrams over the specified physical layer.
  • A Link Control Protocol (LCP) to establish, configure, and test the link as well as negotiate settings, options and the use of features.
  • One or more Network Control Protocols (NCP) used to negotiate optional configuration parameters and facilities for the network layer. There is one NCP for each higher-layer protocol supported by PPP.
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