A brouter (pronounced BRAU-tuhr or sometimes BEE-rau-tuhr) is a network bridge and a router combined in a single product. A bridge is a device that connects one local area network (LAN) to another local area network that uses the same protocol (for example, Ethernet or token ring). If a data unit on one LAN is intended for a destination on an interconnected LAN, the bridge forwards the data unit to that LAN; otherwise, it passes it along on the same LAN. A bridge usually offers only one path to a given interconnected LAN. A router connects a network to one or more other networks that are usually part of a wide area network (WAN) and may offer a number of paths out to destinations on those networks. A router therefore needs to have more information than a bridge about the interconnected networks. It consults a routing table for this information. Since a given outgoing data unit or packet from a computer may be intended for an address on the local network, on an interconnected LAN, or the wide area network, it makes sense to have a single unit that examines all data units and forwards them appropriately.
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