A host SHOULD support local IP multicasting on all connected networks for which a mapping from Class D IP addresses to link-layer addresses has been specified (see below). Support for local IP multicasting includes sending multicast datagrams, joining multicast groups and receiving multicast datagrams, and leaving multicast groups. This implies support for all of [IP:4] except the IGMP protocol itself, which is OPTIONAL.
IGMP provides gateways that are capable of multicast routing with the information required to support IP multicasting across multiple networks. At this time, multicast-routing gateways are in the experimental stage and are not widely available. For hosts that are not connected to networks with multicast-routing gateways or that do not need to receive multicast datagrams originating on other networks, IGMP serves no purpose and is therefore optional for now. However, the rest of [IP:4] is currently recommended for the purpose of providing IP-layer access to local network multicast addressing, as a preferable alternative to local broadcast addressing. It is expected that IGMP will become recommended at some future date, when multicast-routing gateways have become more widely available.
If IGMP is not implemented, a host SHOULD still join the "all- hosts" group (126.96.36.199) when the IP layer is initialized and remain a member for as long as the IP layer is active.
Joining the "all-hosts" group will support strictly local uses of multicasting, e.g., a gateway discovery protocol, even if IGMP is not implemented.
The mapping of IP Class D addresses to local addresses is currently specified for the following types of networks:
Mappings for other types of networks will be specified in the future.
A host SHOULD provide a way for higher-layer protocols or applications to determine which of the host's connected network(s) support IP multicast addressing.