PPPoE Operation


PPPoE has two stages:
  • Discovery stage - a client discovers all available access concentrators and selects one of them to establish PPPoE session.This stage has four steps: initialization, offer, request and session confirmation . PPPoE Discovery uses special Ethernet frames with their own Ethernet frame type 0x8863.
To initiate discovery, PPPoE client sends PADI frame to the broadcast Ethernet address (FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF) and may specify particular service name.
When server receives PADI frame, it responds with PADO frame to Client's unicast Ethernet address. There can be more than one server in broadcast range of the client. In such case client collects PADO frames and picks one (in most cases it picks the server which responded first) to start session.
Client sends PADR frame to unicast Ethernet address of the server it chose. If server agrees to set up a session with this particular client, it allocates resources to set up PPP session and assigns Session ID number. This number is sent back to client in PADS frame. When client receives PADS frame, it knows servers mac address and Session ID, it allocates resources and session can begin.
  • Session - When discovery stage is completed, both peers know PPPoE Session ID and other peer's Etehrnet (MAC) address which together defines PPPoE session. PPP frames are encapsulated in PPPoE session frames, which have Ethernet frame type 0x8864.
    When server sends confirmation and client receives it, PPP Session stage is started that consists of following steps:
    • LCP negotiation
    • Authentication
    • IPCP negotiation - client is assigned with an IP address.

PPPoE server sends Echo-Request packets to the client to determine the state of the session, otherwise server will not be able to determine that session is terminated in cases when client terminates session without sending Terminate-Request packet.
More detailed description of PPPoE protocol can be found in RFC 2516

Used Packet Types

PADIPPPoE Active Discovery Initialization
The PPPoE client sends out a PADI packet to the broadcast address. This packet can also populate the "service-name" field if a service name has been entered on the dial-up networking properties of the PPPoE broadband connectoid. If a service name has not been entered, this field is not populated
PADOPPPoE Active Discovery Offer
The PPPoE server, or Access Concentrator, should respond to the PADI with a PADO if the Access Concentrator is able to service the "service-name" field that had been listed in the PADI packet. If no "service-name" field had been listed, the Access Concentrator will respond with a PADO packet that has the "service-name" field populated with the service names that the Access Concentrator can service. The PADO packet is sent to the unicast address of the PPPoE client
PADRPPPoE Active Discovery Request
When a PADO packet is received, the PPPoE client responds with a PADR packet. This packet is sent to the unicast address of the Access Concentrator. The client may receive multiple PADO packets, but the client responds to the first valid PADO that the client received. If the initial PADI packet had a blank "service-name" field filed, the client populates the "service-name" field of the PADR packet with the first service name that had been returned in the PADO packet.
PADSPPPoE Active Discovery Session confirmation
When the PADR is received, the Access Concentrator generates a unique session identification (ID) for the Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP) session and returns this ID to the PPPoE client in the PADS packet. This packet is sent to the unicast address of the client.
PADTPPPoE Active Discovery Terminate
might be sent anytime after a session is established to indicate that a PPPoE session terminated. It can be sent by either server or client.


Typically largest Ethernet frame that can be transmitted without fragmentation is 1500 bytes. PPPoE adds another 6 bytes of overhead and PPP field adds two more bytes, leaving 1492 bytes for IP datagram. Therefore max PPPoE MRU and MTU values must not be larger than 1492.
TCP stacks try to avoid fragmentation, os they use an MSS (Maximum Segment Size). By default MSS is chosen as MTU of the outgoing interface minus the usual size of the TCP and IP headers (40 bytes), which results in 1460 bytes for an Eternet interface. Unfortunately there may be intermediate links with lower MTU which will cause fragmentation. In such case TCP stack performs path MTU discovery. Routers which cannot forward the datagram without fragmentation are supposed to drop packet and send ICMP-Fragmentation-Required to originating host. When host receives such ICMP, it tries lower MTU. This should work in ideal world, however in real world many routers do not generate fragmentation-required datagrams, also many firewalls drop all ICMP datagrams.
Workaround for this problem is to adjust MSS if it is too big. By default RouterOS adds mangle rules to intercept TCP SYN packets and silently adjust any advertised MSS option so they will be appropriate for the PPPoE link.
Additional information on maximum supported MTUs for routerboards are listed here.



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