The TCP/IP Protocol Suite

Quite often, TCP/IP is referred to as a network protocol, although that's not entirely accurate. Like IPX/SPX and AppleTalk, TCP/IP is actually a protocol suite comprised of many separate protocolseach of which has its own purpose and function. Combined, they all provide the TCP/IP functionality. The following list contains some of the more well-known protocols found within the TCP/IP protocol suite:

  • Address Resolution Protocol (ARP)

  • File Transfer Protocol (FTP)

  • Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP)

  • Internet Protocol (IP)

  • Reverse Address Resolution Protocol (RARP)

  • Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP)

  • Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)

This is just an introduction to the protocols found within the TCP/IP protocol suite.

TCP/IP Standards

One of the strengths of the TCP/IP protocol suite is that it is not owned by any one party and is not licensed. This is in contrast to protocols such as AppleTalk and IPX/SPX, which are owned by Apple and Novell, respectively. Because of its non-proprietary nature, TCP/IP has an open development model with its standards published in documents known as Requests for Comments (RFCs). RFCs are maintained by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). You can find RFCs pertaining to TCP/IP on IETF's website at