Is data transmission different between Wired and Wireless network? In other word, when talking about TCP/IP, does it mean that TCP/IP stack is not suited for wireless networks?

1 Answer 1


IP is a layer-3 protocol, and TCP is a layer-4 protocol. Your wired or wireless networks are a combination on layer-1 and layer-2 protocols. IP doesn't care in the least what layer-1/2 protocols carry it. IP has been run on barbed wire.

In modern times, ethernet is the most common wired layer-1/2 protocol, and Wi-Fi is the most common wireless protocol. Wi-Fi runs on a half-duplex medium (radio waves), but ethernet originally did, too, and it still can.

Both ethernet and Wi-Fi have pros and cons, but IP and TCP simply don't know or care which carries them.

  • Thank you. To my knowledge, TCP packet maintains the standard format in wired network but it gets encapsulated in wireless environment based on 802.11 standard to be transmitted correctly. Is my reasoning valid?
    – Michael
    Nov 25, 2016 at 5:28
  • A TCP segment gets encapsulated by an IP packet, which gets encapsulated by a layer-2 frame, whether it is an ethernet, Wi-Fi, or other layer-2 protocol frame. Each lower layer encapsulates the upper layer as payload, except layer-1 just encodes the bits of the layer-2 frame for the medium.
    – Ron Maupin
    Nov 25, 2016 at 5:31
  • Alright, got it. Kindly one more question: Can I reason that routing protocols for wireless and wired networks do not care about the format of packets, they just care about how to route packets efficiently?
    – Michael
    Nov 25, 2016 at 5:38
  • Routing happens at layer-3, and routers actually strip off layer-2 frames and discard them before inspecting the IP packets for routing. A router will create a new frame for the next hop in the packet's path.
    – Ron Maupin
    Nov 25, 2016 at 5:39

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