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The "Type-of-Service" byte in the IP header is divided into two sections: the Precedence field (high-order 3 bits), and a field that is customarily called "Type-of-Service" or "TOS" (low-order 5 bits). In this document, all references to "TOS" or the "TOS field" refer to the low-order 5 bits only.

The Precedence field is intended for Department of Defense applications of the Internet protocols. The use of non-zero values in this field is outside the scope of this document and the IP standard specification. Vendors should consult the Defense Communication Agency (DCA) for guidance on the IP Precedence field and its implications for other protocol layers. However, vendors should note that the use of precedence will most likely require that its value be passed between protocol layers in just the same way as the TOS field is passed.

The IP layer MUST provide a means for the transport layer to set the TOS field of every datagram that is sent; the default is all zero bits. The IP layer SHOULD pass received TOS values up to the transport layer.

The particular link-layer mappings of TOS contained in RFC- 795 SHOULD NOT be implemented.


While the TOS field has been little used in the past, it is expected to play an increasing role in the near future. The TOS field is expected to be used to control two aspects of gateway operations: routing and queueing algorithms. See Section 2 of [INTRO:1] for the requirements on application programs to specify TOS values.

The TOS field may also be mapped into link-layer service selectors. This has been applied to provide effective sharing of serial lines by different classes of TCP traffic, for example. However, the mappings suggested in RFC-795 for networks that were included in the Internet as of 1981 are now obsolete.

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Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia Type-of-Service: RFC-791 Section 3.2


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