TCP/IP is unique in that the network portion of the address has not been allocated a fixed address space. The number of bits that the network portion may use depends on the number of networks that need to be identified. Although a governing body allocates an original address, the network portion of the address can be extended. To identify how many of the address bits have been extended into the network portion of the address, a subnet mask is used.
Where do the unique addresses come from? These addresses, known by various names, are assigned by a governing body that the Internet community has placed in charge of such address allocation. These organizations can then take this address and subdivide it to identify efficiently each network and host within their specific environment.
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