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Multicasting is growing in importance as new multimedia applications are devised. Throughout this article, multicasting is understood as the efficient multipoint-to-multipoint transmission of information (in terms of network resource consumption) between the members of a group. Most multicast services have been designed up to now to work over connectionless environments. The approach adopted by connection-oriented networks has been to try to imitate these connectionless multicast schemes with the aim of supporting IP multicast or network-layer broadcast. However, these solutions present drawbacks in terms of delay or signaling overhead. The goal of native ATM multicasting is to provide multicast communications support by taking into account the characteristics of ATM. Therefore, the design philosophy of multicast must be rethought by making it more suitable for connection-oriented networks. Native ATM multicasting is based on mechanisms implemented at the switches to allow the correct ATM-layer multicast forwarding of information. These mechanisms seek to avoid the delay and signaling problems of current solutions, e.g., LAN emulation and IP multicast over ATM. This article provides a survey of the literature on the strategies that offer multicast communications in ATM environments, with special stress on native ATM multicast forwarding mechanisms. Other aspects, such as signaling, quality of service, traffic control, and routing, are not addressed in detail in this article.
Date of Publication: Third Quarter 2000