A reliable transport protocol, suitable for routing protocols, that works with unicast transmission and multicast transmission, and an improved routing protocol based thereon. Multicast transmissions can be interspersed with unicast transmissions in situations where some of the receivers have received all of the packets sent to them and others have not. A mechanism to deliver multicast packets quickly to some receivers, even when there are unacknowledged packets pending for other receivers. When a packet is multicast from a sender node to all of its neighbors, the sender puts the packet on a queue for each neighbor and retransmits the packet if an acknowledgement has not been received within a predetermined period of time. If the packet is retransmitted, it is transmitted as a unicast. The invention takes advantage of the fact that the sender already has to maintain state information to determine who has not received its packets. A technique for distributing routing information gathered by a router outside an autonomous system of routers using the same routing protocol. A metric calculated by an identical routing protocol or a different routing protocol may be distributed and used by routers in a different autonomous system. Packets may be labeled with authentication information or with an administrative tag that specifies a method of routing in response to policy considerations.