Network Layer Details

Posted On 2008-04-08 by FortyPoundHead
Keywords: OSI Model
Tags: Networking Tutorial 
Views: 3532

The network layer is the third layer out of seven in the OSI model and the third layer out of five in the TCP/IP model. In the TCP/IP reference model it is called the Internet layer. In all of the models, the network layer responds to service requests from the transport layer and issues service requests to the data link layer.

In essence, the network layer is responsible for end to end (source to destination) packet delivery, whereas the data link layer is responsible for node to node (hop to hop) frame delivery.

The network layer provides the functional and procedural means of transferring variable length data sequences from a source to a destination via one or more networks while maintaining the quality of service, and error control functions.

The network layer deals with transmitting information all the way from its source to its destination - transmitting from anywhere, to anywhere. Here are some things that the network layer needs to address:

  • Is the network connection-oriented or connectionless?
    For example, snail mail is connectionless, because you can send a letter to someone without them doing anything and they will receive the letter. On the other hand, the telephone system is connection-oriented, because the other party is required to pick up the phone before communication can be established. The OSI Network Layer protocol can be either connection-oriented, or connectionless. The IP Internet Layer (equivalent to OSI's Network Layer) supports only the connectionless Internet Protocol (IP); however, connection-oriented protocols, such as TCP, exist higher in the stack by enforcing reliability constraints through timeouts and resending packets.

  • What are the Global Addresses?
    Everybody in the network needs to have a unique address which determines who they are. This address will normally be hierarchical, so you can be "Fred Murphy" to Dubliners, or "Fred Murphy, Dublin" to people in Ireland, or "Fred Murphy, Dublin, Ireland" to people anywhere in the world. On the internet, these addresses are known as IP Addresses.

  • How do you forward a message?
    This is of particular interest to mobile applications, where a user may rapidly move from place to place, and it must be arranged that his messages follow him. Version 4 of the Internet Protocol (IPv4) doesn't really allow for this, though it has been hacked somewhat since its inception. Fortunately, the forthcoming IPv6 has a much better designed solution, which should make this type of application much smoother.

  • IPv4/IPv6, Internet Protocol

  • DVMRP, Distance Vector Multicast Routing Protocol

  • ICMP, Internet Control Message Protocol

  • IGMP, Internet Group Multicast Protocol

  • PIM-SM, Protocol Independent Multicast Sparse Mode

  • PIM-DM, Protocol Independent Multicast Dense Mode

  • IPSec, Internet Protocol Security

  • IPX, Internetwork Packet Exchange

  • RIP, Routing Information Protocol

  • DDP, Datagram Delivery Protocol

About the Author

has posted a total of 1974 articles.

Comments On This Post

No comments on this post yet!

Do you have a thought relating to this post? You can post your comment here. If you have an unrelated question, you can use the Q&A section to ask it.

Or you can drop a note to the administrators if you're not sure where you should post.

Your IP address is:

Before you can post, you need to prove you are human. If you log in, this test goes away.

Code Links