Two systems form a transport protocol connection between one another.
They exchange messages to open and confirm the connection parameters.
The initial data flow is the entire BGP routing table. Incremental
updates are sent as the routing tables change. BGP does not require
periodic refresh of the entire BGP routing table. Therefore, a BGP
speaker must retain the current version of the entire BGP routing
tables of all of its peers for the duration of the connection.
KeepAlive messages are sent periodically to ensure the liveness of
the connection. Notification messages are sent in response to errors
or special conditions. If a connection encounters an error
condition, a notification message is sent and the connection is
The hosts executing the Border Gateway Protocol need not be routers.
A non-routing host could exchange routing information with routers
via EGP or even an interior routing protocol. That non-routing host
could then use BGP to exchange routing information with a border
router in another Autonomous System. The implications and
applications of this architecture are for further study.
If a particular AS has multiple BGP speakers and is providing transit
service for other ASs, then care must be taken to ensure a consistent
view of routing within the AS. A consistent view of the interior
routes of the AS is provided by the interior routing protocol. A
consistent view of the routes exterior to the AS can be provided by
having all BGP speakers within the AS maintain direct BGP connections
with each other. Using a common set of policies, the BGP speakers
arrive at an agreement as to which border routers will serve as
exit/entry points for particular destinations outside the AS. This
information is communicated to the AS's internal routers, possibly
via the interior routing protocol. Care must be taken to ensure that
the interior routers have all been updated with transit information
before the BGP speakers announce to other ASs that transit service is
Connections between BGP speakers of different ASs are referred to as
"external" links. BGP connections between BGP speakers within the
same AS are referred to as "internal" links. Similarly, a peer in a
different AS is referred to as an external peer, while a peer in the
same AS may be described as an internal peer.