What Does Unicast Mean?

Unicast is a common network model where packets are sent to a single network destination with a particular address.


Techopedia Explains Unicast

In its role as a basic network configuration, unicast competes with other methodologies such as anycast, broadcast, and multicast.

Among these, unicast is uniquely straightforward in that there is a single destination. In other models, messages may be sent to multiple destinations through more complex routing transmission models.

The basic notion of unicast is that there is a specific channel created for the user. This is helpful when content transmission is based on a ‘single-tenant’ model, for example, when a content or service provider needs to send personalized and accurate information to individual users.

In other situations, where the same information can be sent to a larger audience, multicast or broadcast systems can be more efficient. For example, in a service where an individual is supposed to get on-demand video messaging, unicast would be the preferred method.

Where there is a need for collaborative viewing, multicast or broadcast may be a better approach.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.