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Also known as an mrouter, a multicast router is a type of program that is capable of identifying the difference between a multicast and a unicast packet. This is important, since the ability to distinguish between the two makes it possible to efficiently process the packets and distribute them accordingly. When considering the selection of a multicast router, it is important to consider several key factors, such as functionality, the efficiency of the routing protocols used, and the overall cost and quality for the mrouter.
One of the main functions of a multicast router is the ability to recognize both multicast and unicast packets and make the multicast packets recognizable to unicast routers. The process must be quick and simple, making it possible to distribute the data with little to no interference or breakdown in the transmission. Ideally, the mrouter that is selected can accomplish this task with a minimum of delay.
Another key factor to consider when choosing the best multicast router is the efficiency of the protocols used to manage the distribution. Most mrouters will be equipped to make use of two different routing methods, known as dense mode routing and sparse mode routing. In order to make use of these two methods, the router must be able to evaluate the amount of bandwidth that is available for the transmission as well as the number of end users who will receive the data over the network. When there is a large number of users across a network and the available bandwidth is high, the multicast router will likely determine that the dense mode routing is the most efficient approach. When relatively little bandwidth is available, then the sparse mode routing option may be used. As with other functions, the mrouter should be able to quickly identify the situation and respond accordingly.
As with just about any type of software or hardware purchase, balancing cost with quality is essential when determining which multicast router to purchase. After identifying the needs of the network in which the router will function, narrowing the focus to routers that have a reputation of functioning efficiently in those networks is important. From there, evaluating based on both price and ratings for each router will make it possible to finally settle on the best multicast router for your needs. Keep in mind that the very best router may not be the least expensive option. Unless you are on a very tight budget, focus more on the option that is likely to provide the greatest level of support and less on the cost.