PPPoE Vs. PPPoA Protocols

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PPPoE Vs. PPPoA Protocols
PPPoE and PPPoA are methods for connecting to an Internet service provider. (global computer network image by Michael Brown from Fotolia.com)

PPPoE means Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet. PPPoA stands for Point-to-Point Protocol over Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM). PPPoE connects several users by Ethernet cable to the same modem. With PPPoA, the modem resides in the computer originating the connection. Both offer ADSL (Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line) services.

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PPP was used by Internet service providers (ISP) for dial-up accounts. All ISPs had a RADIUS server that authenticated incoming connections. Broadband connections, which run over Ethernet, are always connected. This technology made the RADIUS servers of ISPs redundant. The clients connected directly to broadband via an Ethernet link to their computer. PPPoE enables ISPs to channel many customers onto a single broadband modem. This method allows the company to continue using RADIUS servers as access points to the broadband service. Rather than being permanently connected to the Internet, customers decide when to connect and when to disconnect, which improves computer security.


PPPoA also runs over Ethernet. The difference between PPPoE and PPPoA is the location of the connection to the network. PPPoA requires modem software to be resident and configured on the connecting computer.


PPPoA offers faster speeds and lower overhead than PPPoE. Both systems are methods to connect to an Internet service provider's (ISP) network as a dial-up "Virtual Channel Link." The choice between PPPoE and PPPoA depends on your ISP preference. PPPoE has an IP address assigned to it temporarily from a pool owned by the ISP. The allocation of these IP addresses on connection can cause delays.

Benefits of PPPoA

The Internet service provided to a PPPoA client is permanently available. The connection to the ISP router is a pass through and, as far as the user is concerned, the Internet runs right to his computer. The user does not have to log on or choose when to connect or disconnect. The user has a dedicated connection and does not have to compete for resources with other users.

Benefits of PPPoE

The Internet connection is an on-demand service with PPPoE. The user chooses when to connect and disconnect, which reduces security risks. The client connects to the ISP through a dialer program on the computer. This method requires no expensive hardware. Equipment configuration also is simpler.


A hybrid alternative is available through 3Com, which produces modems with its own system for PPPoE. These modems have a PPPoA mode. When this mode is accessed, the modem communicates with the ISP in PPPoA, but communicates with the client as PPPoE.

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