The Point-to-Point Protocol is designed for simple links which transport packets between two peers. These links provide full-duplex simultaneous bi-directional operation, and are assumed to deliver packets in order. It is intended that PPP provide a common solution for easy connection of a wide variety of hosts, bridges and routers .
The PPP encapsulation provides for multiplexing of different network-layer protocols simultaneously over the same link. The PPP encapsulation has been carefully designed to retain compatibility with most commonly used supporting hardware.
Only 8 additional octets are necessary to form the encapsulation when used within the default HDLC-like framing. In environments where bandwidth is at a premium, the encapsulation and framing may be shortened to 2 or 4 octets.
To support high speed implementations, the default encapsulation uses only simple fields, only one of which needs to be examined for demultiplexing. The default header and information fields fall on 32-bit boundaries, and the trailer may be padded to an arbitrary boundary.
In order to be sufficiently versatile to be portable to a wide variety of environments, PPP provides a Link Control Protocol (LCP). The LCP is used to automatically agree upon the encapsulation format options, handle varying limits on sizes of packets, detect a looped-back link and other common misconfiguration errors, and terminate the link. Other optional facilities provided are authentication of the identity of its peer on the link, and determination when a link is functioning properly and when it is failing.
Point-to-Point links tend to exacerbate many problems with the current family of network protocols. For instance, assignment and management of IP addresses, which is a problem even in LAN environments, is especially difficult over circuit-switched point-to-point links (such as dial-up modem servers). These problems are handled by a family of Network Control Protocols (NCPs), which each manage the specific needs required by their respective network-layer protocols. These NCPs are defined in companion documents.
It is intended that PPP links be easy to configure. By design, the standard defaults handle all common configurations. The implementor can specify improvements to the default configuration, which are automatically communicated to the peer without operator intervention. Finally, the operator may explicitly configure options for the link which enable the link to operate in environments where it would otherwise be impossible.
This self-configuration is implemented through an extensible option negotiation mechanism, wherein each end of the link describes to the other its capabilities and requirements. Although the option negotiation mechanism described in this document is specified in terms of the Link Control Protocol (LCP), the same facilities are designed to be used by other control protocols, especially the family of NCPs.