network protocol

Definition of network protocol in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is Network Protocol?

A protocol that operates at the network layer (layer 3) of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) reference model for networking. Common network protocols include the following:

  • Internet Protocol (IP):
    Part of the TCP/IP protocol suite for connectivity with the Internet


  • Internetwork Packet Exchange (IPX):
    A Novell NetWare protocol


  • NetBEUI:
    A protocol developed from NetBIOS that functions at both the network and transport layers


Microsoft 32-bit Windows operating systems are implemented in a layered fashion that allows multiple network protocols to be bound to multiple network interface cards (NICs) and allows multiple network clients and services to access these protocols. Windows computers can thus establish connectivity and interoperability with non-Microsoft operating system platforms such as UNIX and Novell NetWare.