Characteristics of IP – Connectionless, best effort, and Media Independent

The IP address with the low overhead protocol is planned. It also provides the functions that require delivering a packet from a source to a destination over an interconnected network. The protocol doesn’t track and manage the flow of packets.


No connection is established with the destination before sending data packets. This describes communication between two network endpoints, where we can send a packet from one side to another without ensuring the recipient’s availability and readiness to receive the data. If there are problems with the transmission, it may be necessary to resend the data several times. It is theoretically comparable to sending a letter to someone without notifying the recipient in advance.

Connectionless data communications work on the principle where the initial exchange of control information is not required to set up an end-to-end connection before packets are forwarded. IP does not need additional fields in the header to keep up an established connection. This process reduces the overhead of IP. But, with no pre-established end-to-end connection, senders are unaware of whether destination devices are present and functional when sending packets, nor are they aware of whether the destination receives the packet or can access and read it.

The Internet Protocol and User Datagram Protocol are connectionless protocols. These protocols are generally described as stateless because the endpoints have no protocol-defined way to remember where they are in a “conversation” of message exchanges. The alternative to the connectionless is connection-oriented protocols, described as stateful because they can keep track of a conversation.

Best Efforts (Unreliable) – Data Delivery

IP addresses are naturally unreliable because there is no packet delivery guarantee or assurance that all packets sent to the destination are received. IP has unreliable data delivery. The IP cannot handle and recover from undelivered or corrupt packets because the IP header has no information about the delivery location. The IP header also has no information to inform the sender whether the packet was successfully received at the destination. Packets received at the destination may be corrupted, out of sequence, or not at all. IP also provides no capability for packet re-transmissions if errors occur.

If the destination is received in out-of-order packets or packets are missing, the upper layer helps to resolve the problem. The upper layer or application helps IP work very efficiently. In the TCP/IP protocol suite, the reliability of data transmission is the role of the transport layer.

Media Independent

The operation depends on the medium (i.e., copper, fiber optic, or wireless) carrying the data. It works with all types of media that bring the data to lower layers of the OSI Model. Therefore, IP packets travel as electrical signals over copper cable, optical signals over fiber, or wirelessly as radio signals.

The OSI data link layer takes an IP packet and prepares it for transmission over the communications medium. The transmission of the IP packet is not limited to any particular medium, so it travels over any available transmission medium.

The maximum size of the Protocol Data Unit (PDU) is considered for each medium. This characteristic is called MTU (Maximum Transmission Unit). The Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) is the part of the control communication between the data link layer and the network layer.

The data link layer passes the Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU) value to the network layer, which then determines how large packets can be. When a packet is forwarding from one medium to another, sometimes an intermediate device splits up a packet with a smaller Maximum Transmission Unit (MTU). This process is packet fragmentation.