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In computer network
A computer network, often simply referred to as a network, is a collection of hardware components and computers interconnected by communication channels that allow sharing of resources and information....
transmission is the sending of messages to a single network destination identified by a unique address.
The term unicast
is contrasted with the term broadcast
which means transmitting the same data to all possible destinations. Another multi-destination distribution method, multicast
In computer networking, multicast is the delivery of a message or information to a group of destination computers simultaneously in a single transmission from the source creating copies automatically in other network elements, such as routers, only when the topology of the network requires...
ing, sends data only to interested
destinations by using special address assignments.
Unicast messaging is used for all network processes in which a private or unique resource is requested.
Certain network applications which are mass-distributed are too costly to be conducted with unicast transmission since each network connection consumes computing resources on the sending host and requires its own separate network bandwidth for transmission. Such applications include streaming media of many forms. Internet radio
Internet radio is an audio service transmitted via the Internet...
stations using unicast connections may have high bandwidth costs.
These terms are also used by streaming
Streaming media is multimedia that is constantly received by and presented to an end-user while being delivered by a streaming provider.The term "presented" is used in this article in a general sense that includes audio or video playback. The name refers to the delivery method of the medium rather...
content providers' services. Unicast-based media servers open and provide a stream for each unique user. Multicast-based servers can support a larger audience by serving content simultaneously to multiple users.