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What are the benefits of using TCPIiP over other protocols?


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January 21, 2008 9:43AM

The principle benefit of the internet suite of protocols (or TCP/IP) is that it is by far the most widespread data networking protoocol. This means that the equipment can be purchased cheaply, is well understood and will almost certainly work. TCP/IP has become so widespread because it is flexible - it can be run on anything between a dial-up telephone connection up to gigabps optical or satellite links. It copes well with a lossy medium such as dial-up telephone or radio - the protocol was originally designed to run over radio. TCP/IP is also well defined and non-propriatory; other protocols (such as SNA) might claim to be as good as TCP/IP but as SNA was propriatory to IBM is was less widespread. The internet suite is defined in a set of documents called RFCs (requests for comment), these are often written by the people who implement the protocols and are peer reviewed. Other protocols (such as the OSI set of protocols) were defined by committees who did not actually have to impliment them; this meant that the protocol might actually be unimplimentable. One of the measures of the success of a protocol is how well it copes with the demands of new technology and TCP/IP has, generally, coped well - over the years extensions such as DHCP and SNMP have been added. TCP/IP is not without problems; it is designed to guarantee data arrives correctly, but not in a timely way - this means it isn't particularly well suited to carrying video or voice traffic which has to arrive as a continuous stream of information. Only the high quality of the data lines and high speed routing makes such services possible. There is also a problem with address space; the original version of TCP/IP uses a four byte address field. The way the addresses are structured limited the number of Internet hosts to a relatively low number. This is because TCP/IP is essentially a local area network protocol that's been stretched around the globe. The addressing problem has, to some extent, been solved by the introduction of version 6 of the IP protocol.