IP Multicast via Satellite: A Survey

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Many of the emerging applications in the Internet, such astele-conferencing, distance-learning, distributed games, softwareupdates, and distributed computing would benefit from multicastservices. In many of these applications, there is a need todistribute information to many sites that are widely dispersed fromeach other. Communication satellites are a natural technology optionand are extremely well suited for carrying such services. Despite thepotential of satellite multicast, there exists little support forsatellite IP multicast services. Both Internet Engineering andInternet Research Task Forces (IETF and IRTF) have been involved in aresearch effort to identify the design space for a general purposereliable multicast protocol and standardize certain protocolcomponents as emph{building blocks}. However, for satellitemulticast services, several of these components have a differentdesign space. In this paper, we attempt to provide an overview of thedesign space and the ways in which the network deployment andapplication requirements affect the solution space. We maintain asimilar taxonomy to that of the IETF efforts, and identify which keycomponents of a general multicast protocol are affected by two of themost common satellite network deployment scenarios. We also highlightsome of the issues which we think are critical in the development ofnext generation satellite IP multicast services.