What is a Point-to-Point (P2P)

Point-to-point telecommunications generally refers to a connection restricted to two endpoints, usually host computers.

Point-to-point is sometimes referred to as P2P, or Pt2Pt, or variations of this. Among other things, P2P also refers to peer-to-peer file sharing networks.

Point-to-point is distinct from point-to-multipoint where point-to-multipoint also refers to broadcast or downlink.

A basic point-to-point data link:
A traditional point-to-point data link is a communications medium with exactly two endpoints and no data or packet formatting. The host computers at either end had to take full responsibility for formatting the data transmitted between them. The connection between the computer and the communications medium was generally implemented through an RS-232 interface, or something similar. Computers in close proximity may be connected by wires directly between their interface cards.

When connected at a distance, each endpoint would be fitted with a modem to convert analog telecommunications signals into a digital data stream. When the connection used a telecommunications provider, the connections were called a dedicated, leased, or private line.

With that said, a point to point is generally used for transferring data files from one companies location to another. Another and possibly a more popular use is to connect the telecommunications of one office's location to another. P2P's allow long distance offices to directly connect without incurring long distance phone charges. They allow 2 locations to share the same phone system, internet pipe and file servers.

Generally, the farther the 2 end points are apart, the more costly the P2P becomes.

Today, many P2P networks are being replaced by MPLS. MPLS costs start to become justified when 3 or more locations are connect via P2P's and additional services are needed by an organization. P2P networks are typically not "managed" by the teleco, MPLS networks are preferred to be "managed" giving the network 24x7 monitoring by the teleco provider.