I ran arp -a in cmd in my home network and it got normal output, but then some multicast addresses have shown up:         ff-ff-ff-ff-ff-ff     static            01-00-5e-00-00-16     static           01-00-5e-00-00-fX     static           01-00-5e-00-00-fX     static       01-00-5e-7f-ff-fX     static       ff-ff-ff-ff-ff-ff     static

So in short terms they are just used for broadcasting messages on the 2nd OSI layer to some groups of devices in my network? I am still learning networking, so any help is appreciated. I cannot ping the first IP, the MAC addresses look weird. I censored some of the MACs for safety reasons with Xs. My subnet mask is

P.S What do these MAC addresses mean? Are they virtual? Or are they like a sum of multiple device MACs?

1 Answer 1


At the ethernet layer, hosts generally listen for packets destined for specific MAC addresses. This includes unicast, broadcast, and multicast addresses. Broadcast & Multicast addresses have special handling in network switches. Cheap switches will just broadcast packets with a destination MAC that is a multicast or broadcast address.

  • ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff is the broadcast MAC address
  • 01:00:5e:XX:XX:XX is the multicast MAC address range. There is a trivial mapping from multicast IPs in the range ( just take the lower 23 bits of the IP, and prepend with the OUI 01:00:5e: (the collisions in the top 5 bits of the IP and the missing bit have historical reasons).

Sending an ICMP PING out for an IP associated with a broadcast or multicast MAC address will generally cause all hosts listening for that MAC to respond. Depending on the client you are using, you may have to pass a specific broadcast flag or have admin privileges.

You can lookup registered multicast addresses here: https://www.iana.org/assignments/multicast-addresses/multicast-addresses.xhtml#multicast-addresses-12 However, there are services that pick random multicast addresses, or aren't registered.

In your output:

  • - IGMP
  • - mDNS
  • - Link-local Multicast Name Resolution
  • - Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP)

Python transformation for Multicast IPv4 address to Multicast MAC:

def multicast_ipv4_to_mac(ipaddr_as_u32, multicast_oui='01005e'):
   return "%s%06x" % (multicast_oui, ipaddr_as_u32 & 0x7FFFFF)

# Example, using ip2int from https://stackoverflow.com/questions/5619685/conversion-from-ip-string-to-integer-and-backward-in-python
> multicast_ipv4_to_mac(ip2int(''))
  • How do I prepend? Using an AND bitmask? Apr 18, 2019 at 9:10
  • Note that it's the multicast MAC address range specifically for IPv4. There can be other prefixes (e.g. IPv6 uses its own); only a single bit distinguishes unicast vs group MAC addresses.
    – user1686
    Apr 18, 2019 at 19:34

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