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Bundle protocol

Bundle protocol

(also BP)

Bundle protocol definition

Bundle protocols (often shortened to “BP”) are experimental communication protocols for disruption-tolerant networking (also known as “delay-tolerant networking” or simply “DTN”). Bundle protocols are designed to operate in scenarios where connectivity is not guaranteed, such as deep space or disaster area communications.

The first bundle protocols were created for the DTN project by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, although modern development has shifted to the Internet Research Task Force Delay Tolerant Networking Research Group.

See also: communication protocol, connection-oriented protocol, connectionless protocol, Internet Protocol address, network protocols

How bundle protocols work

Unlike traditional networking protocols that rely on continuous end-to-end connectivity, bundle protocols acknowledge the potential for network disruptions. To avoid potential problems, bundle protocols support asynchronous communication — the nodes do not need to be online at the same time for data to be transmitted across the network.

As their name suggests, at the core of bundle protocols are “bundles” — autonomous units of data that encapsulate information to be transmitted across the network. These bundles can be custody-transferred between nodes, with intermediate nodes storing them until they can establish a reliable connection for forwarding. Instead of traditional IP addresses, bundle protocols use endpoint identifiers (EIDs) to uniquely identify and route bundles to their destination.

Bundle protocol use cases

  • Deep space communications
  • Disaster response and emergency communications
  • Remote and rural connectivity
  • Military communications
  • Aviation communications
  • Maritime communications

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