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Packet segmentation

Overview#

Packet segmentation is the process of dividing a data packet into smaller units for transmission over the network.

Packet segmentation happens at Transport Layer (layer four) of the OSI-Model. Packet segmentation may be required when:

  • The data packet is larger than the maximum transmission unit supported by the network
  • The network is unreliable and it is desirable to divide the information into smaller segments to maximize the probability that each one of them can be delivered correctly to the destination
Protocols that perform

Packet segmentation at the source usually include a mechanism at the destination to reverse the process and reassemble the original packet from individual segments. This process may include Automatic Repeat-reQuest (ARQ) mechanisms to detect missing segments and to request the source to re-transmit specific segments.

In a communication system based on a layered OSI-Model, Packet segmentation may be responsible for splitting one Protocol Data Unit into multiple Physical Layer service Protocol Data Units so that reliable transmission (and potential re-transmission via ARQ) of each one can be performed individually.

More Information#

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