A broadcast address is defined as a special address used by all the devices in a network. When a specific packet is addressed to the network, the said devices use the broadcast address to open and process the message contained in the packet.
Through the broadcast address, any device in the network can see the message, open it, and pass it on to the next workstation. Also, through the broadcast address, the network administrator can ensure that the needed information will be delivered to every client in the network. Thus, no workstation is excluded in the sharing of information. The broadcast address cannot be assigned as an IP address to any computer in the network.
The exact notations used in broadcast addresses differ from one Operating System to another. The standard notation, however, is indicated in RFC 919. RFC (Request for Comments) is a memorandum created by the Internet Engineering Task Force.
A subnet refers to a portion of a network physically independent from the main network. In a subnet environment, the broadcast address has the highest numerical value in the subnet’s range of numbers.
A broadcast address is determined through a set of processes. Initially, the bit complement of the subnet mask is taken. Then, the bit complement goes through a process known as “or-ing bitwise”, which is carried out using a specific IP address. Once these processes are performed, the message is relayed to the stations in the network. This is done by passing the information up through each network layer.