The Internet began as a research effort to link different kinds of packet-switched networks in sucha way that the computers that were attached to each of the packet networks did not need to knowanything about the nature of the existence of any networks other than the ones to which the host wasdirectly connected. What emerged was a layered design that used encapsulation to carry end-to-end“Internet” packets from the source host, through intermediate networks and gateways to the destinationhost. The first Internet incorporated three wide/medium area networks including the ARPA net, the AtlanticPacket Satellite net (SATNET), and a ground mobile Packet Radio network (PRNET). Eventually it alsoincluded the first 3 MB/s Ethernet developed at Xerox PARC in 1973.Today, the Internet and corporate intranets are being used to communicate the same informationto large numbers of people. IP multicasting, a technology for efficiently sending and receiving informationfrom a group of hosts, rather than through the more traditional one-on-one interactions, creates a singlestream of data to which users subscribe. This allows a few server streams to serve much larger numbersof users. IP Multicast reduces bandwidth demands by carrying only one instance of the data to multipledestinations.The word "Multicast" is typically used to refer to IP Multicast, the implementation of the multicastconcept on the IP routing level, where routers create optimal distribution paths for datagram’s sent to amulticast destination address spanning tree in real time.
Internet Protocol (IP) multicast is a bandwidth-conserving technology that reduces traffic bysimultaneously delivering a single stream of information to thousands of corporate recipients and homes.Applications that take advantage of multicast include videoconferencing, corporate communications,distance learning, and distribution of software, stock quotes, and news.IP Multicast delivers source traffic to multiple receivers without adding any additional burden onthe source or the receivers while using the least network bandwidth of any competing technology.Multicast packets are replicated in the network by Cisco routers enabled with Protocol IndependentMulticast (PIM) and other supporting multicast protocols resulting in the most efficient delivery of data tomultiple receivers possible. All alternatives require the source to send more than one copy of the data.Some even require the source to send an individual copy to each receiver. If there are thousands of receivers, even low-bandwidth applications benefit from using Cisco IP Multicast. High-bandwidthapplications, such as MPEG video, may require a large portion of the available network bandwidth for asingle stream. In these applications, the only way to send to more than one receiver simultaneously is byusing IP Multicast.IP multicast is based on Class D IP addresses where a single address points to multiple users or group members. IP multicasting hands a file off only once to each router, which passes it on to thecomputers that subscribe to the information. The traditional unicast model sends separate copies of thesame data to each user.IP multicast relies on the existence of an underlying multicast delivery system to forward datafrom a sender to all the intended receivers. Until all the routers on the Internet are multicast-enabled,multicast through the Internet will be limited to tunneling, services offered by multicast-enabled islandsand some Internet service providers. In the meantime, however, it is possible to deploy IP multicast usinga private virtual network based on a network architecture or network service that is multicast-enabled.The next big advance in IP multicasting technology will probably come in the area of reliabledelivery of data. IP multicast protocol does not include any acknowledgment mechanism to determinewhether the data sent to recipients have arrived correctly. Much research is underway to address thisissue and the IETF has recently formed a working group to sort out the maze of proposed protocols andtools and come up with recommendations.IP multicast is eminently useful for deploying information from applications based on pushtechnologies where bandwidth consumption is a problem. For example, the IP multicast protocol usesonly the bandwidth required to update a single desktop in order to update several hundred desktopsrequesting the same data.Multicast technology is being heavily used for experimentation into audio/video conferencing over IP. Some commercial applications are coming into their own. Big organizations such as Toys `R Us, Ford