MBONE: Multicasting Tomorrow's Internet


This requirement seems obvious, but it may not be that easy to obtain. If you want to receive MBONE traffic, you must have an MBONE feed to your site. The question is: Who will provide you with a feed, and why?

Normally, your network provider provides the feed for you, if it has chosen to participate in the MBONE. To reach your provider, send mail to the generic mbone@network.provider. The response you receive will give you a good indication of their level of participation. For example, if you send mail to mbone@mci.net or mbone@jvnc.net, the message is picked up from a mailbox by the person who takes care of MBONE feeds at this provider. If the message bounces back with a "user unknown" error message, chances are good that your network provider does not participate in the MBONE. However, you really should give them a phone call, just in case they are planning to participate or they just didn't set up that generic e-mail address. They also could be planning to join the MBONE and to begin offering feeds and don't have anything official set up yet.

If your network provider does participate, then setting up a feed with it will be easy.

What if your network provider does not participate? It is always possible to set up a feed with another site, but you should seek approval from your network provider before proceeding. Normally, your provider should not have a problem with this. In fact, it's best for the provider if it participated, but giving you approval at least allows it to know where you get your link and to advise you if the planned feed is not optimal.

It is better for a network provider to participate in the MBONE because it can then have some control over the feeds that run over its network. Nothing is more disruptive to a network than 15 unsynchronized sites all setting up their own feeds to the MBONE. Fifteen times the maximum MBONE bandwidth would cross the same wires, a problem that a single feed to the network provider could avoid.

The source of your MBONE feed is a very important aspect of setting up a feed. For example, at McGill University in Montreal (Canada), it's easy to get a feed from best.net in California. However, this setup would be suboptimal. McGill currently gets its feed from jvnc.net, which is relatively close to the New York Network Access Point, where traffic from one network provider switches to other network providers. Some people argue that it's better for McGill to get a feed from CA*net instead of MCI. Currently, McGill is the main feed for Canada. Getting a link from CA*net would indeed be one of the best solutions if the CA*net feed was an entity other than ourselves. The best solution is to get a link from RISQ (our regional network provider), which would set up their feed with CA*net.

CA*net's network provider is MCI, and at the time McGill's MBONE feed was set up, MCI was not officially providing links. So, McGill set up a feed with jvnc, which is still a pretty optimal situation. McGill should probably move the link to MCI now that it supports MBONE.

This discussion about Canadian feeds and network infrastructure may seem uninteresting, but it's necessary to illustrate a simple idea. When setting up an MBONE feed, the most important thing to keep in mind is avoiding redundant feeds over network links.

I may have given you the impression that to set up an MBONE feed, you must know how the Internet is arranged. This is not the case. A mailing list exists for such matters. This mailing list is subdivided in smaller mailing lists corresponding to various areas of the planet. Sending mail to the appropriate mailing list assures you that you will get an answer from a competent person who is in a good network position to give you an MBONE feed. See Appendix D for a list of these useful mailing lists.

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