Internet transport protocols


This is an unpolished draft of the second edition of this ebook. If you find any error or have suggestions to improve the text, please create an issue via

Transport protocols rely on the service provided by the network layer. On the Internet, the network layer provides a connectionless service. The network layer identifies each (interface of a) host by using an IP address. It enables hosts to transmit packets that contain up to 64 KBytes of payload to any destination reachable through the network. The network layer does not guarantee the delivery of information, cannot detect transmission errors and does not preserve sequence integrity.

Several transport protocols have been designed to provide a richer service to the applications. The two most widely deployed transport protocols on the Internet are the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) and the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP). A third important transport protocol, the Stream Control Transmission Protocol (SCTP) RFC 4960 appeared in the early 2000s. It is currently used by some particular applications such as signaling in Voice over IP networks. We also describe SCTP in this section to present a different design than TCP. The Real Time Transport Protocol (RTP), defined in RFC 3550 is another important protocol that is used by many multimedia applications. It includes functions that belong to the transport layer, but also functions that are related to the encoding of the information. Due to space limitations, we do not discuss it in details in this section.