Internet Protocol

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Internet protocol

[¦in·tər‚net ′prōd·ə‚kȯl]
The set of standards responsible for ensuring that data packets transmitted over the Internet are routed to their intended destinations. Abbreviated IP.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Internet Protocol

(IP) The network layer for the TCP/IP protocol suite widely used on Ethernet networks, defined in STD 5, RFC 791. IP is a connectionless, best-effort packet switching protocol. It provides packet routing, fragmentation and re-assembly through the data link layer.

IPv4 is the version in widespread use and IPv6 is just beginning to come into use in 2000.

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Internet Protocol

The communications technology of the public Internet, local area networks (LANs) and most wide area networks (WANs). The Internet Protocol (IP) is part of the TCP/IP protocol suite, and the terms "IP network" and "TCP/IP network" are synonymous.

Packet Switching
The Internet uses a packet-switched architecture, in which data are broken up into smaller "packets," with each packet containing a source address and destination address. Internet protocol (IP) packets are handed over to a data link layer protocol, for the physical transmission to the next node in the network path.

IP is the Network Layer
While "IP" refers to the entire TCP/IP protocol suite, "IP layer" refers to just the network-to-network part, occupying layer 3 in the "protocol stack" (see below). To learn about IP networking, see TCP/IP and TCP/IP abc's. See OSI model, IP address and IP on Everything.

The TCP/IP "Stack"
The layer 3 Internet Protocol resides in the middle of the TCP/IP stack. It accepts packets from the upper layer TCP or UDP protocols and hands them to a lower layer data link protocol. Within a local network, the data link protocol is typically Ethernet. Within the public Internet, the data link protocols are SONET, ATM, frame relay and Carrier Ethernet.
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