The RIP metric is based on hop count and can be between 1 and 15. The metric 16 is used for infinity, which means that if the route is unreachable, a metric of 16 is displayed. The question is, why was the metric chosen as 16? Why not 17 or 18? The metric filed in RIP-1 packet format clearly shows that it is 32 bits long. This means that, theoretically, RIP can support 232 hops. Although this is a large number, the metric of 15 was chosen to avoid a count to infinity problem. (This is also referred to as a routing loop.) In a large network with a few hundred routers, a routing loop results in a long time for convergence if the metric for infinity has a large value. The number 16 was chosen to get a shorter convergence time.
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