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IP is an acronym for Internet Protocol.
It works in combination with TCP, which is an acronym for Transmission Control Protocol.
Together they are known as TCP/IP.
Every network-connected device contains software to enable it to work with the TCP/IP protocols.
These protocols have been in common use for many years now. It is a stable and proven technology. The software within the devices is able to detect errors, missing or even corrupted information, and to manage the re-transmission of that data when necessary.
Each device on any network will be granted an IP address as a member of that network - an example of a typical form of IP address might be 192.168.1.5 Other devices in the same Local Area Network (LAN) would typically be granted IP addresses in the same range, this might be anything from 192.168.1.1 to 192.168.1.255.
Typically a single device on the network, such as a router or a server, will control the issuing of IP addresses to devices connected to the network. This is known as Dynamic Hosting, and will follow the Dynamic Host Control Protocol (DHCP) rules.
TCP/IP is now the universally accepted method of addressing and connecting to network devices, whether those devices be computers, card readers, cameras, telephones, fridges or fruit machines!
Using cameras as an example, IP networks typically allow multiple users (at their own client PCs on the network) to access and view multiple cameras connected at many other points on that network.
Perhaps the greatest strength of the Internet Protocol is the sheer fact that networks running this technology now reach everywhere in the world!
We are now able to add IP cameras or other devices to IP networks, and with the correct permissions we can access them from virtually anywhere.