Encapsulation is the process of sending data encoded in one protocol format across a network operating a different protocol, where it is not possible or desirable to convert between the two protocols. For example, where Ethernet LANs attach to an Fiber distributed data interface (FDDI) backbone, it is not possible to convert between the different packet formats. Therefor, the Ethernet packet is encapsulated in its entirety inside an FDDI packet as it crosses the bridge on to the FDDI network. When the encapsulated Ethernet packet reaches the bridge connecting the destination Ethernet LAN to the FDDI network, the Ethernet packet is stripped out of the FDDI packet and put, unchanged, on to the destination Ethernet LAN. Encapsulation is also known as protocol tunneling.
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