A method and apparatus for reducing the amount of control plane processing and flow detection required in a Multiprotocol Over ATM (MPOA) system are provided. According to one aspect of the present invention, flow detection processing may be altered based upon a packet's content. A first MPOA client (MPC) may include a plurality of flow detection mechanisms including standard MPOA processing and modified flow detection processing. For example, a flow may be determined to exist when the number of packets to a particular destination within a predetermined time interval exceeds a threshold value. Alternatively, a flow may be determined to exist immediately for certain types of traffic and detection of a flow may be suppressed for other types of traffic. Upon receipt at a first MPC, traffic may be classified based upon any information contained within a packet, including the header, the payload, or portions and/or combinations thereof. Based upon the packet's content, the MPC then selects among the plurality of flow detection mechanisms for purposes of determining whether or not a flow exists. According to another aspect of the present invention, control plane processing may be managed based upon a packet's content. A first MPC determines whether or not a stream of data with which a packet is associated justifies establishing a shortcut between the first MPC and the MPC with which the target is associated. After determining that the shortcut is justified, the first MPC allows or disallows the transmission of a resolution request based upon the packet's content.
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