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Unicast address

(also unicast IP address)

Unicast address definition

A unicast address represents a distinct IP address allocated to an individual device within a network, enabling direct communication on a one-on-one basis between the sender and recipient. During a unicast transmission, the sender directs the message solely to the device possessing the matching unicast address, guaranteeing effective and secure communication.

See also: broadcast address, class C IP address, network security protocols

Unicast address examples

  • IPv4:
  • IPv6: 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334

Unicast address vs. other types of addresses

  • Unicast vs. broadcast: While unicast targets a single device, broadcast sends a message to all devices in a network simultaneously, regardless of their IP addresses.
  • Unicast vs. multicast: Multicast involves sending a message to a select group of devices with a specific multicast group address, while unicast sends messages to individual devices.

Pros and cons of a unicast address


  • Efficient data transmission — messages are sent only to intended recipients.
  • Lower network traffic and bandwidth consumption.


  • Inefficient for sending the same data to multiple devices because separate transmissions are required.

Tips for managing unicast addresses

  • Use a dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP) server to automate the assignment of unicast IP addresses.
  • Consider using multicast or broadcast addresses to send the same data to multiple devices to save bandwidth.