OSPFv3 area types

OSPFv3 is built upon a hierarchy of network areas. All areas for a given OSPFv3 domain reside in the same AS. An AS is defined as a number of contiguous networks that share an interior gateway routing protocol.

An AS can be divided into multiple areas, including the backbone (area 0). Because each area represents a collection of contiguous networks and hosts, the topology of a given area is not known by the internal routers in any other area. Areas define the boundaries to which router-LSAs and network-LSAs are broadcast. This functionality limits the amount of LSA flooding that occurs within the AS. It also helps to control the size of the link-state databases (LSDBs) maintained in OSPFv3 routers.

An area is represented in OSPFv3 by either a 32-bit dotted-decimal address or a number. Area types include: Backbone, Normal, Not-so-stubby (NSSA), and Stub.

Backbone area

Every AS must have one (and only one) backbone area (identified as area 0 or The ABRs of all other areas in the same AS connect to the backbone area, either physically through an ABR or through a configured, virtual link. The backbone is a special type of area and serves as a transit area for carrying the inter-area-prefix-LSAs, AS-external-LSAs, and routed traffic between non-backbone areas, as well as the router-LSAs, network-LSAs, and routed traffic internal to the area. ASBRs are allowed in backbone areas.

Normal area

A normal area allows inter-area-prefix-LSAs and AS-external-LSAs to and from the backbone area. A normal area connects to the AS backbone area through one or more ABRs (physically or through a virtual link) and allows router-LSAs and network LSAs within this area. ASBRs are allowed in normal areas.

Stub area

Stub area connects to the AS backbone through one or more ABRs. It does not allow an internal ASBR, and does not allow AS-external-LSAs. A stub area supports these actions:
  • Advertise the area summary routes to the backbone area.

  • Advertise inter-area routes from other areas.

  • Use the inter-area-prefix-LSA default route to advertise routes to an ASBR and to other areas.

You can configure the stub area ABR to do the following:
  • Suppress advertising on the area's summarized internal routes into the backbone area.

  • Suppress LSA traffic from other areas in the AS by replacing inter-area-prefix-LSAs and the default external route from the backbone area with the default summary route (::/0.). This area is called totally stubby area.

Virtual links are not allowed for stub areas.

Not-so-stubby (NSSA) area

An NSSA area connects to the backbone area through one or more ABRs. NSSAs are used where an ASBR exists in an area where you want to:
  • Block injection of external routes from other areas of the AS.

  • Advertise type-7-LSA external routes (learned from the ASBR) to the backbone area as AS-external-LSAs.

NSSAs also support the following:
  • Advertise inter-area-prefix-LSAs from the backbone area into the NSSA. (If no-summary is enabled, the NSSA ABR suppresses these LSAs from the backbone and, instead, injects the default route into the NSSA.)

  • Advertise NSSA inter-area-prefix-LSAs to the backbone area.

Virtual links are not allowed for NSSAs.