2-1 IP Addresses – Composition, Types and Classes

Before heading deeper into IP addresses, you should be aware of the following terms

  • Bit – A bit is a single digit with a value of 0 or 1.
  • Byte – A byte is composed of 8 bits.
  • Octet – An octet is also made up of 8 bits. Throughout this chapter the terms byte and octet are interchangeable.
  • Network Address – This refers to a remote network in terms of routing. All hosts in the remote network fall within this address. For example,, and
  • Broadcast Address – This is the address used to send data to all hosts in a network. The broadcast address refers to all hosts in all networks while an address such as refers to all hosts in a particular network.

An IP address is 32 bits in length. To make the address easier to read, it is divided into four sections of 8 bits each divided by a period. Each section is therefore, 1 byte (also called octet) long. To further make it easier to read and remember, the binary numbers are converted to decimal. For example, an IP address such as 11000000100000000000110000000001 is divided to make it 11000000.10000000.00001100.00000001. When this address is converted to decimal, it will become This format of IP address is called the dotted decimal format. Some applications also covert the address to hexadecimal format instead of decimal format. However this is not commonly seen and as far as the CCNA exam is concerned, you need to only work with the dotted decimal format.

Topics in this chapter require binary to decimal conversions. Table 2-1 shows the decimal value of each bit location in a byte. To easily convert from binary to decimal, add up the decimal value corresponding to the bit place that is “on” (1). For example, a binary value of 10110000 can be easily converted to decimal by adding the decimal value of each bit that is 1. That gives us 128+32+16 = 176.

Table 2-2 shows the decimal value for the most common binary numbers you will encounter in this chapter.

Table 2-1 Decimal Value for each bit place in a byte









Table 2-2 Decimal Values for common binary numbers 

Binary Value

Decimal Value

















An IP address does not only represent the host address. In fact it represents the network where the host resides and the host it self. In effect, the IP address consists of two parts:

  1. 1.    The Network component – Defines network (or subnet), in an internetwork, the host resides in.
  2. 2.    The Host component – Defines the host itself in the network.

Each combination of the network component and the host component should be unique in the entire Internetwork. To make it easy to identify which portion of the address is network component and which one is the host component, addresses are broken down into 5 classes discussed below:

  • Class A – The first byte (8 bits) is the network component and the remaining three bytes (24 bits) are host component (network.host.host.host). This class is for an internetwork with small number of networks and large number of hosts per network.
  • Class B – The first two bytes (16 bits) are the network component and the remaining three bytes are host components (network.network.host.host). This class bridges the gap between Class A and Class C by providing for medium number of networks with medium number of hosts.
  • Class C – The first three bytes (24 bits) are the network component and the last byte (8 bits) is the host components (network.network.network.host). This class provides for large number of networks with fewer hosts per network.
  • Class D – Used for multicasting.
  • Class E – Reserved addresses

In a binary address the first 5 bits of the address and the first octet in a dotted decimal address shows the class of address. Table 2-3 shows the first 5 bits and the first octet range of each class of address.

Table 2-3 Address range for different classes of address

Class First 5 bits in binary First Octet range
A 0xxxx 0-127 (actually 1-126 because 0 and 127 are reserved
B 10xxx 128-191
C 110xx 192-223
D 1110x 224-239
E 1111x 240-254

Notice that first few bits in each class have a fixed value. For example a class A address should have the first bit set to 0. Similarly class C should have first 2 bits set to 1 and the third bit set to 0. Another point to note is that though the class A range is from 0 to 127, the address is reserved to mean “any network” and is reserved as a loopback address which refers to the host itself. So the class A network is restricted to the 1-126 range.

Exam Alert: Class of addresses and their address range is a very important topic. You will have to remember the range associated with each class.

Before moving ahead, spend some time to figure out the class of some addresses given below. Also try to figure out which portion is the network and which portion is the host part:

  1. 1. – This is a Class A address because the first octet lies in 1-126 range. 9 is the network part while 140.2.87 is the host part because class A addresses have a network.host.host.host format.
  1. 2. – This is a Class B address because the first octet lies in 128-191 range. 172.30 is the network part while 4.190 is the host part because class B addresses have a network.network.host.host format.
  1. 3. – This is a Class C address because the first octet lies in the 192-223 range. 194.144.5 is the network part while 10 is the host part because class C addresses have a network.network.network.host format.
  1. 4. – This is again a class A address with 45 being the network part and 22.187.1 being the host part.

Some IP address such as have a special meaning. Table 2-4 lists such addresses and what they represent.

Table 2-4 Reserved IP addresses

Address What it represents Where can it be used
Network address of all 0s Represents “this network”. For example For sending broadcast messages to the network.
Network address of all 1s Represents “all networks”. For sending broadcast messages to all networks.
Node address of all 0s Represents a network address or all hosts in the network. Example or Routers route traffic based on network address.
Node address of all 1s Represents all hosts in a network. Also called the broadcast address. Example or Used to send broadcasts to all hosts in a network.
Entire address of 0s Represents “any network”. Used by routers to designate the default route.
Entire IP set to all 1s. Represents all hosts in network. Used to send broadcast messages Represents the loopback address which is essentially the host itself To send traffic from the host to itself. If you want to connect to a webserver running on the host itself, you will use this address in the browser.
Exam Alert: It is important to remember that if all host bits in an address are set to 0 then it is a network address. On the other hand if all host bits are set to 1 then it is a broadcast address. These addresses cannot be assigned to a host.