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Retransmission, essentially identical with automatic repeat request (ARQ), is the resending of packets which have been either damaged or lost. Retransmission is one of the basic mechanisms used by protocols operating over a packet switched computer network to provide reliable communication (such as that provided by a reliable byte stream, for example TCP).

Such networks are usually "unreliable", meaning they offer no guarantees that they will not delay, damage, or lose packets, or deliver them out of order. Protocols which provide reliable communication over such networks use a combination of acknowledgments (i.e. an explicit receipt from the destination of the data), retransmission of missing or damaged packets (usually initiated by a time-out), and checksums to provide that reliability.


There are several forms of acknowledgement which can be used alone or together in networking protocols:


Retransmission is a very simple concept. Whenever one party sends something to the other party, it retains a copy of the data it sent until the recipient has acknowledged that it received it. In a variety of circumstances the sender automatically retransmits the data using the retained copy. Reasons for resending include:

See also