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Mbone session directory (sd), February 1996

Mbone (short for "multicast backbone") was an experimental backbone and virtual network built on top of the Internet for carrying IP multicast traffic on the Internet. It was developed in the early 1990s and required specialized hardware and software.[1] Since the operators of most Internet routers have disabled IP multicast due to concerns regarding bandwidth tracking and billing, the Mbone was created to connect multicast-capable networks over the existing Internet infrastructure.[1]


Mbone was created by Van Jacobson, Steve Deering and Stephen Casner in 1992 based on a suggestion by Allison Mankin.[2]

During March 16–20, 1992 the first significant use of the MBONE took place from the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) meeting in San Diego with 20 sites listening.

On May 23, 1993, Wax or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees was streamed over the Mbone,[3] becoming "the first movie to be transmitted on the Internet."[4]

On June 24, 1993, the band Severe Tire Damage was the first to perform live on the Mbone.

On November 11, 1993 Sky Cries Mary performed on the Mbone from Bellevue, WA sponsored by Starwave.[5]

On August 23, 1994, the band Deth Specula broadcast the first live concert over the Mbone.[6][7][8][9][10][11]

A November 1994 Rolling Stones concert at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas with 50,000 fans was the "first major cyberspace multicast concert." Mick Jagger opened the concert by saying, "I wanna say a special welcome to everyone that's, uh, climbed into the Internet tonight and, uh, has got into the M-bone. And I hope it doesn't all collapse."[1]

A year later the Mbone was used, this time symmetrically (simultaneous transmission and reception without hierarchy among participants), for a first experience of real-time graphical interaction without the intermediary of any Center (Poietic Generator[12][13]).

By 1995, there were M-bone links in Russia, as well as at the McMurdo Sound research station in Antarctica.[1] Mbone was predominantly used by research and scientific entities, including NASA. [citation needed]

Mbone was used for shared communication such as video teleconferences or shared collaborative workspaces. It was not generally connected to commercial Internet service providers, but often to universities and research institutions. Some other projects and network testbeds, such as Internet2's Abilene Network, made Mbone obsolete.

A "virtual room video conferencing system" (VRVS) started operation in 1997 using the Mbone, and was in operation through 2008.[14]

A revived mboned (mbone deployment) working group was chartered by the Internet Engineering Task Force in 2014, as a forum to coordinate and document multicast deployment challenges and best practices.[15]


The purpose of Mbone was to minimize the amount of data required for multipoint audio/video-conferencing.[1]

Mbone was free and it used a network of routers that support IP multicast, and it enables access to real-time interactive multimedia on the Internet. Many older routers do not support IP multicast. To cope with this, tunnels must be set up on both ends: multicast packets are encapsulated in unicast packets and sent through a tunnel. Mbone uses a small subset of the class D IP address space (– assigned for multicast traffic. Mbone uses for multimedia conferencing.[citation needed]


Mbone tools[edit]

See also[edit]

  • CastGate—an attempt at providing connectivity to the multicast network for hosts which have none


  1. ^ a b c d e Lewis, Peter H. "Peering Out a 'Real Time' Window". The New York Times, 8 February 1995. Retrieved 26 August 2009.
  2. ^ Casner, Stephen; Deering, Stephen (July 1992). "First IETF Internet Audiocast". ACM SIGCOMM Computer Communication Review. 22 (3): 92–97. doi:10.1145/142267.142338. S2CID 8746059.
  3. ^ "Wax, or the Discovery of Television among the Bees | transmediale". archive.transmediale.de. Retrieved 2022-06-23.
  4. ^ Markoff, John (1993-05-24). "Cult Film Is a First On Internet". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2022-06-23.
  5. ^ "Net Gain / Seattle's Sky Cries Mary gets more than a little help from Microsoft founders". 29 October 1995.
  6. ^ Strauss, Neil, "Rolling Stones Live on Internet: Both a Big Deal and a Little Deal", New York Times, Nov 22, 1994, p. C15.
  7. ^ Hafner, Katie, "The MBone: Can't You Hear It Knocking", Newsweek, Dec 5, 1994.
  8. ^ Malcom McCameron (1994-08-23). "S.F. BAY AREA BAND DETH SPECULA ROCKS THE INTERNET WITH LIVE, COMPUTER NETWORK BROADCAST". Deth Specula (http://www.deth.com). Retrieved 2008-03-30.
  9. ^ Internet Underground Music Archive (1994-08-23). "Deth Specula Live at the SCO Forum". Internet Underground Music Archive. Archived from the original on 1999-02-02. Retrieved 2008-04-19.
  10. ^ Jon R. Luini (1994-08-23). "MediaCast Company Information". MediaCast (http://www.mediacast.com). Retrieved 2008-03-30.
  11. ^ Cherie Hu (2020-03-17). "How Livestreaming Is Bridging the Gap Between Bands and Fans During the Coronavirus Outbreak". Pitchfork. Retrieved 2020-07-24.
  12. ^ "gp" IP Multicast version of the Poietic Generator, developed for the Internet Mbone (1995): (Telecom ParisTech server)
  13. ^ Announcement of a session on the Mbone (February 1996). Screenshot of the "session directory" (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory): (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poietic_Generator#/media/File:Annonce_d%27une_session_Poietic_Generator_sur_le_Mbone_(_f%C3%A9vrier_1996).png)
  14. ^ "VRVS Frequently Asked Questions". Archived from the original on February 22, 2008. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  15. ^ "MBONE Deployment". datatracker.ietf.org. Retrieved 2022-08-04.

External links[edit]

Historical clients[edit]