Methods and apparatus for efficiently distributing traffic on available best-effort service flows within a system are disclosed. According to one aspect of the present invention, a method for forwarding a packet which includes destination information and source information upstream from a source to a destination includes determining a first value associated with the packet using the destination information and the source information. A first service flow that is suitable for use to forward the packet is identified using the first value. The first service flow is one of a set of service flows between a source and a central access point. Once the first service flow is identified, the packet is sent on the first service flow. In one embodiment, the source is a subscriber unit and the central access point is a headend.
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