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Church Of The
Swimming Elephant

1. Introduction Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
1. Introduction

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1. Introduction

1. Introduction

The use of broadcasts, especially on high-speed local area networks, is a good base for many applications. Since broadcasting is not covered in the basic IP specification [13], there is no agreed-upon way to do it, and so protocol designers have not made use of it. (The issue has been touched upon before, e.g. [6], but has not been the subject of a standard.)

We consider here only the case of unreliable, unsequenced, possibly duplicated datagram broadcasts (for a discussion of TCP broadcasting, see [11].) Even though unreliable and limited in length, datagram broadcasts are quite useful [1].

We assume that the data link layer of the local network supports efficient broadcasting. Most common local area networks do support broadcast; for example, Ethernet [7, 5], ChaosNet [10], token ring networks [2], etc.

We do not assume, however, that broadcasts are reliably delivered. (One might consider providing a reliable broadcast protocol as a layer above IP.) It is quite expensive to guarantee delivery of broadcasts; instead, what we assume is that a host will receive most of the broadcasts that are sent. This is important to avoid excessive use of broadcasts; since every host on the network devotes at least some effort to every broadcast, they are costly.

When a datagram is broadcast, it imposes a cost on every host that hears it. Therefore, broadcasting should not be used indiscriminately, but rather only when it is the best solution to a problem.

Note: some organizations have divided their IP networks into subnets, for which a standard [8] has been proposed. This RFC does not cover the numerous complications arising from the interactions between subnets and broadcasting; see [9] for a complete discussion.

Next: 2. Terminology

Connected: An Internet Encyclopedia
1. Introduction


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