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RFCs & Standards Voice over IP

Why z9hG4bK?

Why does every SIP branch start with z9hG4bK?

Every SIP branch value starts with z9hG4bK, why?

Branch IDs were introduced in RFC 3261, to help keep differentiate all the different transactions a device or proxy might be involved in.

The answer isn’t that exciting. IETF picked the 7 character long prefix as a magic cookie so older SIP servers (RFC 2543 compliant only) wouldn’t pick up the value due to it’s length.


The branch ID inserted by an element compliant with this specification MUST always begin with the characters “z9hG4bK”. These 7 characters are used as a magic cookie (7 is deemed sufficient to ensure that an older RFC 2543 implementation would not pick such a value), so that servers receiving the request can determine that the branch ID was constructed in the fashion described by this specification (that is, globally unique).

SIP: Session Initiation Protocol – RFC 3261

As to why z9hG4bK, instead of any other random 7 letter string, I haven’t been able to find an answer, but it’s as good as any random 7 letter string I guess.

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