Types of IP addresses

There are three different types of IP addresses based on operational characteristics: Unicast, Broadcast and Multicast. Lets go through these one by one.

1. Unicast IP addresses 

It is an address of a single interface. The IP addresses of this type are mainly for one-to-one communication. Unicast IP addresses direct packets to a specific host. Here is an example:

Types of IP addresses: Unicast IP addresses

In the picture above you can see that the host wants to communicate with the server. It uses the (unicast) IP address of the server (192.168.0.150) to do so.

2. Multicast IP addresses 

One of the other types of IP addresses is Multicat IP Addresses. It is mainly for one-to-many communication. Multicast messages are sent to IP multicast group addresses. Routers forward copies of the packet out to every interface that has hosts subscribed to that group address. Only the hosts that need to receive the message will process the packets. Also, all other hosts on the LAN will discard them. Here is an example:

Multicast IP addresses

R1 has sent a multicast packet destined for 224.0.0.9. This is an RIPv2 packet, and only routers on the network should read it. R2 will then receive the packet and read it. Also, all other hosts on the LAN will discard the packet.

3. Broadcast IP addresses 

One of the other types of IP addresses is Broadcast IP Addresses. It is used to send data to all possible destinations in the broadcast domain (the one-to-everybody communication). The broadcast address for a network has all host bits on. For example, for the network 192.168.30.0 255.255.255.0 the broadcast address would be 192.168.30.255*. Also, the IP address of all 1’s (255.255.255.255) can be used for local broadcast. Here’s an example:

Broadcast IP addresses

R1 wants to communicate with all hosts on the network and has sent a broadcast packet to the broadcast IP address of 192.168.30.255. All hosts in the same broadcast domain will receive and process the packet.

*This is because the subnet mask of 255.255.255.0 means that the last octet in the IP address represents the host bits. And 8 one’s written in decimal is 255.

If you have any queries related to types of IP addresses, please feel free to mention those in the comment section.

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