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Frame Relay is a scalable wide area network solution which makes use of packet-mode transmission. Frame Relay allows for a single serial interface on the router to connect multiple remote sites with the help of virtual circuits. Although Frame Relay is popular due to its relatively inexpensive nature, it is being replaced in many areas by other faster technologies such as asynchronous transfer mode.
Initially designed for transportation across an integrated services digital network infrastructure, Frame Relay places data in a variable unit known as a frame. Configuring user equipment in a Frame Relay network is extremely simple. The connection-oriented link-layer service provided by Frame Relay has properties like non-duplication of frames, preservation of the frame transfer order and small probability of frame loss. The features provided by Frame Relay make it one of the best choices for interconnecting local area networks using a wide area network. However the drawback in this method is that it becomes prohibitively expensive with growth of the network.
There are certain benefits which are associated with Frame Relay. First of all, it helps in reducing the cost of internetworking, as there is considerable reduction in the number of circuits required and the associated bandwidths. Second, it helps in increasing the performance due to reduced network complexity. Third, it increases the interoperability with the help of international standards. Fourth, Frame Relay is protocol independent and can easily be used to combine traffic from other networking protocols such as IPX, SNA and IP. The reduction of network management and unification of hardware used for the protocols can help in cost savings due to Frame Relay.
In business scenarios, where there is unpredictable and high-volume traffic, Frame Relay is one of the best choices. It also remains a great choice for medium- to large-sized networks, which makes use of star or mesh connectivity.
In business scenarios, where there is a slow connection or continuous traffic flow due to applications like multimedia, Frame Relay is not a recommended choice.