Two types of transfer IP addresses exist: the Local Broadcast IP resolve and the Directed Broadcast IP address. In the present networking world, they mostly serve the very same function. But one the them consists of an in addition piece the functionality. In this write-up we’ll plainly illustrate both concepts, and show you their functionality.

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We’re walking to usage this topology to talk through these concepts:


To start, us must specify the hatchet “Broadcast.” A broadcast is any frame or packet that is meant to be yielded to anyone on the regional network.

A broadcast is roughly the the opposite of a Unicast message. Which would certainly be a communication from one host to another single host. Unicast is sometimes referred to as one-to-one communication, conversely, Broadcast could be thought about one-to-all communication.

The meaning of a Broadcast stated frame and packet — this is since there are Layer 2 and Layer 3 facets to the ax Broadcast.

Layer 2 Broadcasts

A great 2 transfer is any type of frame with a location MAC deal with of FFFF.FFFF.FFFF.

This is a MAC address specifically scheduled for transfer Frames. That is likewise sometimes displayed as ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff or ff-ff-ff-ff-ff-ff — these are all similar ways of displaying the “all F’s” MAC address.

Any node on any type of network deserve to simply produce a L2 header through this location MAC resolve in order come send a framework to everyone on the neighborhood network.

Switches know that if they watch this destination MAC resolve they should instantly flood the flame out all interfaces (except the one the was obtained on).

Keep in mind, the is the sender of the frame the sets the destination MAC address. Therefore, the is the sender that the structure that determines even if it is a certain frame will certainly be yielded to everyone ~ above the local network or come a solitary node on the network.

Layer 3 Broadcasts

Similar to a L2 broadcast, a layer 3 broadcast is simply a special IP address set as the destination IP address for a particular packet.

Unlike L2 broadcasts, however, there room two different alternatives for what you use as the destination IP attend to for a great 3 Broadcast.

Those two options are the Local Broadcast and the Directed Broadcast (which is likewise sometimes referred to as the Targeted Broadcast).

Local Broadcast


The Local Broadcast IP address is

Whatever IP network a certain host is on, that host deserve to always use this IP address to send a packet to every node ~ above the local Network.

In ours topology, hold 1 might send a post to the IP deal with come speak to everyone else on it’s own local network.

Notice this additionally includes the Router. Since the R1 has an IP attend to in the network, the is a member of hold 1’s local network.

Host1# ping ( 56 data bytes64 bytes from seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.044 ms64 bytes indigenous seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.944 ms (DUP!)64 bytes from seq=0 ttl=64 time=1.108 ms (DUP!)64 bytes from seq=0 ttl=255 time=1.324 ms (DUP!)^C--- ping statistics ---1 packetstransfer , 1 packets received, 3 duplicates, 0% packet lossround-trip min/avg/max = 0.044/0.855/1.324 msHost1#
Host 1 sent a ping come and received responses from itself (, Host 3 (, and also Host 2 (, and also the Router (

This is what the packets looked prefer on the wire:


Notice the location IP deal with is Notice also the destination MAC attend to is ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff. Which renders this packet both a L2 transfer and a L3 broadcast.

In the packet catch window, we deserve to see the responses from organize 3, hold 2, and also the Router. However we don’t watch the response kind Host 1 — that packet was merely sent internally and also never actually reached the wire.

Moreover, an alert Wireshark properly labeled that packet as a broadcast packet — again, anything sent to is a Broadcast.

For the benefits of comparison, right here is a packet capture of a Unicast ping in between Host 1 and also Host 3:


Notice the L2 resource and location are the MAC addresses which belong to hold 1 (ee:ee:ee:11:11:11) and also Host 3 (ee:ee:ee:33:33:33). And also of food the L3 source and destination are the IP addresses i beg your pardon belong to organize 1 ( and Host 3 (

Directed Broadcast


The Directed transfer IP resolve is what is well-known as the transfer IP for each Subnet. To discover this IP address, girlfriend will need to do a tiny subnetting.

Much prefer the local Broadcast explained above, the Directed transfer IP have the right to be supplied by any host to speak to every host on it’s own local network.

Host 1 has actually the IP deal with ~ above the network. The transfer IP resolve of this IP subnet is therefore

Host 1 can use this IP resolve to send a article to anyone else ~ above it’s own local network — just like it did through the regional Broadcast above:

Host1# ping ( 56 data bytes64 bytes native seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.046 ms64 bytes from seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.615 ms (DUP!)64 bytes from seq=0 ttl=64 time=0.835 multiple sclerosis (DUP!)64 bytes from seq=0 ttl=255 time=1.261 multiple sclerosis (DUP!)^C--- ping statistics ---1 packetstransfer , 1 packets received, 3 duplicates, 0% packet lossround-trip min/avg/max = 0.046/0.689/1.261 msHost1#
Host 1 sent out a ping come and also received responses from itself (, Host 3 (, Host 2 (, and also the Router (

This is what the packets looked choose on the wire:


Notice the location IP address is, and the destination MAC deal with is ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff.

Wireshark’s evaluation of these packets disclose two interesting details:

First, you and also I both understand that is the transfer IP for the network. However Wireshark fail to mark it therefore as that did because that the regional Broadcast in the front example.

The factor is the Wireshark doesn’t understand that this capture is native a network v a /24 mask. Therefore, Wireshark cannot infer the is a transfer IP. If the mask were /22, the transfer IP would be, and the IP would be a perfectly valid host address.

Second, notification the yellow background on the ICMP header. This is Wireshark denote the “expert info” authorize a warning due to the fact that no solution was found for the ICMP echo request.

Wireshark witnessed an echo request sent out to, and was thus looking because that a an answer from I beg your pardon you and also I both understand is no an actual organize that might have responded.


At this allude we’ve proven the a host can use one of two people the Local Boadcast IP or the Directed Broadcast IP come speak come every node top top it’s local network.

Which begs the question. If both of these varieties of broadcast execute the same function, why carry out we have two different varieties of L3 broadcasts?

The answer: The directed Broadcast have the right to do something that the local Broadcast cannot. The directed Broadcast deserve to be supplied to speak to every node on a foreign network.

Directed broadcast to a international Network

Every IP network has actually its very own Broadcast IP. Therefore, Hosts deserve to use the transfer IP address of a foreign network come direct a transfer to every node in that international network. Hence, the ax directed broadcast (or periodically targeted broadcast).

In our topology, hold 1 can use the IP deal with to speak to every hold in the network:


For comparison purposes, I want to very first show friend a Unicast ping from organize 1 to host 6.

Host1# ping ( 56 data bytes64 bytes from seq=0 ttl=61 time=3.792 ms^C--- ping statistics ---1 packets sent , 1 packets received, 0% packet lossround-trip min/avg/max = 3.792/3.792/3.792 ms
On the wire, this is what was captured between Hub1 and also R1:


The resource IP is (Host 1) and also the destination IP is (Host 6). This is the L3 header, and for the most component will continue to be unchanged throughout the entire trip.

The L2 header as it leaves hold 1 has the resource MAC attend to of ee:ee:ee:11:11:11 (Host 1) and also a destination MAC resolve of ee:ee:10:11:11:11 (R1). This L2 header will be discarded and also regenerated every hop along the path.

This very same packet captured between R3 and also SW2 looks prefer this:


Notice the L3 header is unchanged. Yet the L2 header now consists of a source MAC the ee:ee:10:33:33:33 (R3) and a location MAC the ee:ee:ee:66:66:66 (Host 6).

Now let’s test the Directed transfer to a international network. We’ll have actually Host 1 ping the IP attend to Remember there are four nodes on the network and also we have to expect a an answer from every of them.

Host1# ping ( 56 data bytes64 bytes indigenous seq=0 ttl=253 time=1.171 ms64 bytes native seq=0 ttl=61 time=3.683 ms (DUP!)64 bytes from seq=0 ttl=61 time=7.340 ms (DUP!)64 bytes native seq=0 ttl=61 time=9.838 multiple sclerosis (DUP!)^C--- ping statistics ---1 packetstransfer , 1 packets received, 3 duplicates, 0% packet lossround-trip min/avg/max = 1.171/5.508/9.838 ms
As expected, we received 4 responses to our ping: Router 3 (, Host 6 (, Host 5 (, and also Host 4 (

Oddly, R3 comment from the IP address — R3’s IP attend to on the link between R2 and also R3. Ns would have actually expected this solution to come native the IP address I am unsure if it’s a bug or intended habits or just Cisco’s implementation the responding to directed Broadcasts. Either way, this response is undoubtedly from R3.

The packets ~ above the wire disclose some interesting details. Below is the capture on the link in between Hub1 and also R1:


The most significant fact to point out is this packet is a unicast packet. An alert the L2 and L3 headers are built identical come the unicast ping in between Host1 and also Host6 (except the location IP address, the course).

This highlights an essential fact: Host 1 go not understand it is speaking to a directed transfer IP address. You and I know, due to the fact that we have the right to see the topology map; yet from hold 1’s perspective, is just an IP resolve on a international network. Organize 1 is simply complying with all the consistent rules because that speaking to an IP on a international network.

In fact, the packet travels from Host1 to R1, and also from R1 to R2, and also from R2 come R3 together a regular unicast packet. The just Router the knows that the IP attend to is the broadcast IP for the location subnet is R3. And the record on the various other side that R3 expose what R3 does v the unicast packet that received:


Notice the destination MAC resolve is ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff, and also the destination IP resolve is This is now a L2 and L3 Broadcast.

R3, knowing that this packet was sent to a Directed broadcast IP address, translated the unicast packet the received right into a transfer packet. This is exactly how the single Unicast packet sent by host 1 was delivered to everyone top top the network.


While the functionality of sending a packet to every organize on a foreign network appears pretty neat. In practice, this is usually regarded together a defense risk.

Directed broadcasts were invented at the dawn of computer system networking, as soon as the internet was a lot friendlier place. Earlier then it was simple enough to just trust the various other users ~ above the net not come abuse the command broadcast.

However, as the net grew, the inherit trust of the other users went away. Currently practically every contemporary operating system and also router software overlook directed broadcasts.

In bespeak to construct the rap we provided in this article, I had to explicitly enable responding to and processing directed Broadcasts on the Router and the Linux hosts.

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On a Cisco Router, that connected this command:

R3# present run int eth0/0!interface Ethernet0/0 mac-address eeee.1033.3333 ip address ip directed-broadcast
I say every this since inevitably after reading this post some of you will try to ping a international network’s broadcast IP, and also it will likely fail.

Which renders sense if you placed yourself in the Network Administrator’s shoes. You wouldn’t desire some arbitrarily user on the net to be able to send a ping come every hold on your network.


In this write-up we questioned the ideas of a Layer 2 Broadcast and a Layer 3 broadcast. We further unpacked the L3 broadcast as we dove into the concepts of the Local Broadcast and also the Directed Broadcast (also referred to as the Targeted Broadcast). To summarize those definitions:

Local transfer IP – be supplied to speak to anyone on the Local networkDirected broadcast – Can be offered to speak to anyone on the Local networkCan be provided to speak to anyone on a Foreign network

Throughout this write-up we verified you screen shots indigenous the packet records from experimentation the local Broadcast and the command Broadcast. If you’d like to download the capture files and also study lock yourself, you deserve to do so here:

Moreover, if girlfriend prefer learning this contents via videos, I present two Youtube video options because that you:


This video clip is a quicker run through of just the concepts and also tests native this article. In this video we’ll define Local and Directed broadcasts, then execute some ping tests come prove they job-related as described.