Multicast Backbone

What Does Multicast Backbone Mean?

The Multicast backbone (MBone) is used to multicast network traffic over an IP network. MBone is primarily designed to multicast audio and video signals over the Internet. It required special hardware and software.


In 1990, MBone was used as an experiment for network multicasting traffic. Its primary uses include audio and video streaming for TV channels and video conferencing. In 1994, MBone was first used as a multicast backbone for transmission of a musical concert. In 1995, Russia used an MBone multicast link in a sound research laboratory.

Techopedia Explains Multicast Backbone

Unicasting enables sending a transmission to a single user (for example, if a user downloads a file from a server and the download is sent to that user only), while multicasting enables sending a transmission to multiple users at the same time.

MBone was initially used as an experiment. Just as IP network infrastructure supports both unicast and multicast networks, MBone is used to connect IP networks supporting multicasting. MBone is not popular in commercial use because it is not widely used by Internet service providers (ISPs).


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Margaret Rouse 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 explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…