SD-WAN vs. MPLS: Which is the right choice for your business?

As cloud and hybrid work adoption rise, more companies are switching from multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) – the long-time standard in networking – to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). But how can you be sure which is right for your business?

We’ll dive into the differences between MPLS and SD-WAN, and how you can find the best fit for your business, in this blog.

Before we explore their differences, let’s go over what SD-WAN and MPLS solutions do:

  • MPLS is a hardware-based wide area network (WAN) architecture that routes data packets over private, pre-defined paths.
  • SD-WAN uses software to route data packets via the best transport method (broadband, 4G, etc.), as determined by bandwidth availability and policy-based routing.

Differences Between SD-WAN and MPLS Solutions

While SD-WAN and MPLS networks both enable business connectivity over a wide area, several differences set the two apart. These include:


MPLS networks provide a reliable, fixed level of bandwidth – but there’s a limit on how much capacity an MPLS connection can provision at once. Increased reliance on cloud and software as a service (SaaS) applications often results in high latency and slow, laggy connections.

SD-WAN combines multiple types of connections to add capacity as needed. This flexibility allows businesses to send critical applications like video calls and web conferencing over the highest-performing connection, which reduces packet loss and minimizes latency.


Installing MPLS connections can be costly, especially for businesses with multiple branches or offices, and requires an upfront hardware investment. SD-WAN doesn’t require specialized hardware, and IT teams can add new connections anytime because the physical distance between endpoints doesn’t matter.

Businesses that switch to SD-WAN solutions typically reduce costs by 50% or more.1 Because SD-WAN uses several types of connections to route traffic, IT teams can leverage cost-effective options like mobile and broadband for low-priority tasks and use more expensive connections for critical applications.


Providers generally don’t include security solutions like firewalls or VPNs, which are essential for protecting business networks from cyber attacks, in their MPLS solutions. This puts the responsibility on the IT team to select and implement the right cyber security solutions.

SD-WAN solutions include encrypted end-to-end tunnels across the entire network. Additionally, businesses can build a multi-layered security strategy that combines this built-in encryption with firewalls, URL filtering, and more.

Find the Right-Fit Connectivity Solution With Momentum

So which is right for your business – MPLS or SD-WAN? As with most technologies, the answer depends on your specific business needs. However, SD-WAN delivers many advantages over MPLS solutions, including improved performance, lower costs, and better security. 

Momentum’s award-winning Navigator SD-WAN solution offers best-in-class features for always-on accessibility and secure connections. Contact us today to learn more about how SD-WAN can benefit your business – and experience the Momentum difference for yourself.


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