The Internet Protocol (IP): What Do You Need to Know?

Internet Protocol is the method that governs how computers share data on the internet. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy seamless internet browsing that is often taken for granted nowadays. However, what exactly is it, and how does it support the internet’s infrastructure? Find out here!

History of the Internet Protocol

Internet Protocol, also known as IP, is the network layer communications protocol in the internet protocol suite that relays data across network boundaries. It enables routing function internetworking and the internet.


In May of 1974, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers or IEEE published a paper which was entitled “A Protocol for Packet Network Intercommunication.” This paper was published by authors Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf. Here, they described an internetworking protocol for resource sharing with the use of packet switching on network modes.

Basically, during this decade, the concept of IP was first invented.


Despite being invented in the mid-70s, it took a couple of years before it was introduced. The concept of IP was only largely adopted in the late 1980s.


During this time, IP encountered its first major problem. This happened when it was made apparent that the numbering system it used would eventually run out of numbers in the future. As a result, in 1995, IPv6 was released to address the issue.

However, the adoption was deemed to be too slow, yet the new version was proven to be basic but remarkably robust.

Internet Protocol Versions

Today, one of the most popularly known versions of IP is the IPv4, better known as Internet Protocol version 4. However, prior to the inception of IPv4, there were other IP versions released during the 70s. These include the following:

  • IEN 2
  • IEN 26
  • IEN 41
  • EIN 44
  • IEN 54

The first 3 IP versions were experimental, and they were developed between 1973 and 1978. These were informally called TCP or IP. There was also an IP version 5, but it was used by Internet Stream protocol. This experimental streaming protocol did not get a chance to be adopted.

Moreover, on April’s Fools day of 1994, IETF published a joke about IPv9. However, it was all a joke, and this version is yet to be made.

After a few years of experimentation and dialog, the IPv4 had its successor, which is the IPv6. It can be easily said that IPv6 is the version that addresses most of the pitfalls of its predecessor.

It’s been a few decades since the adoption of IPv6, but its integration is quite slow. As a matter of fact, only 35% of Google’s traffic is run through an IPv6 connection.

IPv4 vs. IPv6

IPv4 and IPv4 are IP addresses with binary numbers. The main difference between these two is that the IPv4 is a 32-bit binary number. On the other hand, the IPv6 is a 128-bit binary number address. Moreover, the IPv4 addresses are separated using period, while the IPv6 are separated using colons.

Other notable differences between these two can be categorized by the following:

  1. Compatibility with Mobile Devices

IPv4 addresses utilize dot-decimals which is why it’s not compatible with mobile networks. But, since IPv6 proxy is represented using hexadecimal and colons, it’s much better suited for mobile networks. Hence, IPv6 proxy solutions could be applied to any desirable scenario.

  1. Mapping

IPv4 uses Address Resolution Protocol when mapping to MAC address, while IPv6 uses Neighbour Discovery Protocol to do so.

  1. Packet Size

The packet size required for IPv4 is 576 bytes with fragmentation optional, while IPv6 requires 1208 bytes without fragmentation.

  1. Routing Information Protocol

IPv4 uses a RIP that is supported by the routed demon. However, IPv6 uses static routes because it does not support RIP.

  1. Configuration

IPv4 requires configuration before it can communicate with other systems, while the configuration for IPv6 is optional depending on the functions needed.

Take note that IPv4 and IPV6 are not able to communicate with each other. However, they can exist simultaneously on one network, which is also known as Dual Stack.

Key Improvements in the IPv6 Version

The IPv6 version has come a long way compared to its predecessor, which was the IPv4. With that in mind, here are the key improvements made in its design, making it one of the best options of today:

  • No more Network Address Translation
  • No more private address collisions
  • Auto-configuration
  • Better multicast
  • Simplified and more efficient routing
  • Built-in authentication

Final Words

There you have it; those are most of the things that you have to know to understand better what Internet Protocol is and how it supports internet infrastructure. It all might sound so simple, and technically, it is. But, the impact of internet protocols in your daily life can be beyond measure.


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