Internet Protocol (IP)
When information is sent across the network, the data is broken down into small packets. Each packet is sent independently. Each packet is encoded with IP information, such as the IP address of the sender and receiver. IP packets can be routed over routers and gateways: devices that connect a network with other networks.
IP communications require no connection. When IP packets are sent, they might not arrive at their destination in the correct sequence. However, higher-level protocols and programs place the packets in the correct sequence, so IP communications are efficient.