Many transport layers have the concept of out-of-band data, which is sometimes called expedited data. The idea is that something important occurs at one end of a connection and that end wants to tell its peer quickly. By "quickly" we mean that this notification should be sent before any "normal" (sometimes called "in-band") data that is already queued to be sent, and should be sent regardless of any flow control or blocking issues. That is, out-of-band data is considered higher priority than normal data. Instead of using two connections between the client and server, out-of-band data is mapped onto the existing connection.

Unfortunately, once we get beyond the general concepts and down to the real world, almost every transport layer has a different implementation of out-of-band data. As an extreme example, UDP has no implementation of out-of-band data. In this chapter, we will focus on TCP's model of out-of-band data, provide numerous small examples of how it is handled by the sockets API, and describe how it is used by applications like telnet, rlogin, and FTP. Other than remote interactive applications like these, it is rare to find any use for out-of-band data.

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