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A broadcast IP packet is delivered to all accessable hosts. Broadcast IP is used for establishing network routing maps (the routers broadcast out messages saying 'I'm here and I know how to talk to these subnets!') allowing routers establish how to reach various sections of the network.

It can also be used for multimedia transmissions, however you can't use broadcast to stream content at all over the public internet - doing so would involve sending the data to every single system connected to the internet- and this would obviously be a huge waste of bandwidth. To avoid this, most routers refuse to forward on broadcasts, limiting multimedia broadcast technology to application where you have complete control over the infrastructure (such as a company's internal LAN)

See also: IP Multicast, IP unicast

There are two types of IP broadcast traffic. Local broadcast are packets directed to 255.255.255.255. These packets are not forwarded by any routers, and are used either for local discovery (who is directly connected to the sender), or for local peer communications (such as leader election). Directed broadcast packets are sent to the broadcast address of a specific network (determined by placing all 1's inside the host field). Directed broadcasts may be used for remote host discovery, or as a workaround for IP anycast.

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