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An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An Internet Protocol (IP) address is a unique number assigned to every device on a network. Just as a street address determines where a letter should be delivered, an IP address identifies computers on the Internet. Network devices use IP addresses to communicate with each other.

The basic concept is simple: every device on a network needs to have its own address. That way, data is sent to the right place. There are IP addresses used by the whole Internet, and others, only used by locally, for example in your home. If you have an IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) in your home, it will occupy one IP address locally. Your home computer will occupy another also locally. And your router, a popular device, which controls your home network, will occupy one IP address on the Internet. The router disseminates information in a two way street from the Internet to your home network and vice versa, passing all requests for web pages and consequently inbound responses from various sites.

Difference between static and dynamic IPs. When a device is assigned a static IP address, it does not change. The device always has the same IP address. Most devices use dynamic IP addresses, which are assigned by the network when they connect. These IP addresses are temporary, and can change over time.

Whether for the whole world, or just for your home, an IP address always looks like this (four numbers separated by three periods):

  • 192.168.0.1

When you type a URL into your browser, your browser looks up that domain name in DNS (Domain Name Server). For example, if you type www.google.com into your browser, your browser would ask DNS for Google’s IP address. DNS would return the IP address assigned to Google’s domain name (74.125.239.35). Your browser then connects to that IP address. Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc all have their own domain names.

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References:

  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IP_address
  •  https://support.google.com/fiber/answer/3547208?hl=en
  • Static vs. dynamic IP addressing – Fiber Help – Google
  • “Global Computer Network” – via Freedigitalphotos.net