Frame Relay is a packet-switched protocol with streamlined processes. It was developed to provide communication solutions that other protocols were unable to provide. Frame relay is essentially designed to meet the need for higher data transmission speeds, large bandwidth efficiency, particularly for clumping intelligent network devices that lower protocol processing, and the need to connect LANs and WANs (Mannion, 2001).
There are certain distinct features that make Frame Relay a faster, more efficient form of networking as compared to Ethernet. To begin with, a Frame-Relay network circumvents superfluous process such as error detection, which results in a considerably smaller amount of overhead and faster processing. It is not protocol dependent and thus it can accept data from multiple protocols. In addition it has the ability to process traffic from different networking protocols like IP, IPX, and SNA.
A Frame-Relay network is connected to intelligent network devices which perform the functions of error correction and frame formatting. Consequently, processing time is minimized making the transmission of data much faster and more efficient. Moreover, it is entirely digital; the chances of error are therefore significantly reduced and this offers excellent transmission rates. It typically operates at 56 kbps to 1.544 mbps (Mannion, 2001).
Despite being used extensively VoIP users are still faced with a number of problems the major one being quality of service (QoS). QoS is a measure assurance with regards to efficiency and effectiveness in the transmission of packets. However, this problem can be tackled by combining IP with protocols offering better QoS. Frame Relay is therefore used in such cases to due to its inbuilt flexibility and efficiency in packet transmission (Enright, 2001).
Frame Relay is an ideal choice for connecting Wide Area Networks (WANs) that have unpredictable, high-volume, and bursty traffic. Typically, these applications include data transfer, CAD/CAM, and client-server applications. It also offers advantages for interconnecting WANs. In the past, setting up WANs required the use of private lines or circuit switching over a leased line. Single, dedicated lines are not needed to make each WAN-to-WAN connection with Frame Relay, reducing costs. It is effective and efficient and accommodates even a small budget.
Mannion, P. (2001). Frame relay steps up to challenge of IP VPNs. Retrieved October 28, 2008 from http://www.eetimes.com
Enright, G. (2001). Frame relay development could mean improved voice over IP. Retrieved October 28, 2008 from http://www.itworldcanada.com