Every device connected to the network that uses the TCP/IP protocol has to have a unique IP address. IP Address = Internet Protocol Address. In the current version 4.0, the IP address is made up of four sets of numbers separated by dots. Example: 126.96.36.199. Each number set is one byte or 8 bits long. In other words the IP address is 4 bytes or 32 bits long. Since each number set is 8 bits long, it covers a number range of 0 to 255. Therefore the maximum number of an IP address is 255.255.255.255 Parts of an IP address The IP address has two parts. One part is the network address, while the second part gives the device address within the network. The IP address can be compared to a mailing address, Network address = Zip Code, Device address = Street or PO Box address. Classification The identification of the network and device address within the IP address depends upon the classification of the network. Class A • The first number set is used to specify the network address, while remaining three number sets specify the device. • Address Range: 001.xxx.xxx.xxx to 127.xxx.xxx.xxx, • Example: 188.8.131.52. • All the numbers in this class are already assigned. • Government or large commercial organizations have been assigned this range. Class B • First two number sets indicate the network address, while the balance two indicate the device. • Address Range: 128.001.xxx.xxx to 191.254.xxx.xxx, • Example: 184.108.40.206. • This class is assigned to universities, commercial organizations and Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Class C • In this case the first 3 number sets specify the network address, while the remaining number set indicates the device address. • Address Range: 192.000.001.xxx to 223.255.254.xxx, • Example: 220.127.116.11. The maximum number of devices that can be attached to a single network address is 254; it is therefore suitable for smaller networks. Shortage of IP addresses The number of networks and devices has exploded in the recent past. This means that the availability of IP addresses is getting exhausted. Some options: Temporary IP Addresses. One solution to overcome the IP address shortage is to provide temporary addresses to devices as and when the device connects to the Internet. After the device disconnects, the same address can be given to another device. This is how ISPs operate. Reduce Need for IP Addresses. The router, which is the starting point of a network, has a fixed IP address. All the devices connected to that network use this IP address. The router has the address list of the devices network card (NIC) and uses this address to communicate within the network.