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Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP)

Definition:Occasionally a gateway or destination host will communicate with a source host, for example, to report an error in datagram processing. For such purposes this protocol, the Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP), is used. ICMP, uses the basic support of IP as if it were a higher level protocol, however, ICMP is actually an integral part of IP, and must be implemented by every IP module.
ICMP messages are sent in several situations: for example, when a datagram cannot reach its destination, when the gateway does not have the buffering capacity to forward a datagram, and when the gateway can direct the host to send traffic on a shorter route. The Internet Protocol is not designed to be absolutely reliable. The purpose of these control messages is to provide feedback about problems in the communication environment, not to make IP reliable. There are still no guarantees that a datagram will be delivered or a control message will be returned. Some datagrams may still be undelivered without any report of their loss. The higher level protocols that use IP must implement their own reliability procedures if reliable communication is required. The ICMP messages typically report errors in the processing of datagrams. To avoid the infinite regress of messages about messages etc., no ICMP messages are sent about ICMP messages. Also ICMP messages are only sent about errors in handling fragment zero of fragmented datagrams. (Fragment zero has the fragment offset equal zero.). Source:Commission Regulation 2006/62/EC concerning the TSI relating to the telematic
mapplication for freight subsystem of the trans-European conventional rail system