IEEE 802.1Q

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IEEE 802.1Q, or VLAN tagging, is a networking standard promulgated by the IEEE 802.1 work group for the sharing of a physical Ethernet network link by multiple independent logical networks.

IEEE 802.1Q defines the meaning of a virtual LAN (VLAN) with respect to the specific conceptual model underpinning bridging at the Media Access Control layer and to the IEEE 802.1D Spanning Tree Protocol. This protocol allows nodes on different VLANs to communicate with one another through a network switch with Network Layer (OSI layer 3) capabilities, or a router.

Example application

A company wishes to provide data separation and security between network traffic from its various departments by creating separate logical networks for each of its departments dispersed throughout the enterprise, while using only one corporate physical network. A network administrator assigns a unique VLAN to each department. Edge switches on the corporate network are configured to insert an appropriate VLAN tag into all data frames arriving from equipment belonging to a given department. After the frames are transmitted on their respective VLANs through the corporate network, the VLAN tag is stripped before the frame is sent to another computer belonging to the same department.

Frame format

802.1Q does not actually encapsulate the original frame. Instead, for Ethernet II frames, it adds a 32-bit field between the source MAC address and the EtherType/Length fields of the original frame. Two bytes are...
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