TCP/IP - Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol

Woman using a laptop
ONOKY - Eric Audras/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

Definition: Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP) are two distinct computer network protocols. TCP and IP are so commonly used together, however, that TCP/IP has become standard terminology for referring to either or both of the protocols.

IP corresponds to the Network layer (Layer 3) in the OSI model, whereas TCP corresponds to the Transport layer (Layer 4) in OSI. TCP/IP technically applies to network communications where the TCP transport is used to deliver data across IP networks.

A so-called "connection-oriented" protocol, TCP works by establishing a virtual connection between two devices via a series of request and reply messages sent across the physical network.

The average person on the Internet works in a predominately TCP/IP environment. Web browsers, for example, use TCP/IP to communicate with Web servers.

Also Known As: Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol