Suppose you are using the Web from your mobile phone. Is there any indication in the internet backbone, when you look at the traffic that shows that the end host is a mobile device? I am sure there are many such indicators in the application layer, but I am more interested in answers about IP protocol. I assume their IPs frequently change as they move, so they may be using reserved IPs or anything that I cannot think of.

Thank you for your help


1 Answer 1


An IP address is an IP address, and there is nothing in IP that distinguishes what you are looking for. There is the IANA IPv4 Special-Purpose Address Registry that explains all the special-purpose IPv4 address ranges, and IANA IPv6 Special-Purpose Address Registry for IPv6. IP really doesn't care about what the host is, only that it is addressed in order to be able to route packets between networks.

  • 2
    "I am sure that you somehow need to know the end-host is a mobile device." Why do you think that? Routing knows how to forward packets to the network on which the device is addressed, so there is nothing in IP that needs to know what type of device it is. In fact, it would be a corner case for one host to need to know what type another host is. For example, a web browser and web server do not need to know what type of device the other is, they just communicate via HTML.
    – Ron Maupin
    Oct 25, 2018 at 16:11
  • 1
    Mobile IP is something different, where the home network is in contact with and end-device that changes address, and when traffic for the home address of the device comes into the home network, it is forwarded to the current address of the mobile device. There is really no way for a different device to know that this is happening. In any case, Mobile IP has been largely ignored and unused.
    – Ron Maupin
    Oct 25, 2018 at 17:37
  • 3
    Which is truly unfortunate; Mobile IPv6 is very, very nice. Oct 25, 2018 at 18:40
  • 1
    Depending on the companies providing cell service in a given country, you can sometimes deduce that an IP is probably a mobile device by looking up the IP and seeing that it is allocated to a mobile provider. But this is basically a guess, not something in the protocol.
    – mbrig
    Oct 25, 2018 at 19:22
  • 1
    @RonMaupin I 100% agree (which is why I had the last sentence of my comment). I just wanted to provide a situation where you can use information provided by the protocol to make an informed guess.
    – mbrig
    Oct 25, 2018 at 19:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.