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When reading about network protocols it says they are a set of rules and format for communication between devices over a network, so basically an agreed way of how to communicate over a network.

But then I came across routing protocols which are described as a set of rules used by a router when communicating with its neighbours (routers). Example of routing protocols are RIP, OSPF, EIGRP.

So I'm assuming they are two different things but act similar?

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    Protocols are sets of rules. The protocols to which you refer are rules for communication. I'm not sure why you distinguish communications between applications on PCs and applications on routers. – Ron Maupin Mar 10 at 18:15
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A network protocol is any protocol that is used in networking. Some popular examples are Ethernet (physical and data link layer), IPv4 (network layer), TCP (transport layer), HTTP (application layer).

A routing protocol is a network protocol that routers use to exchange routing information - who knows which subnet and where it is located.

In the OSI layering framework, a routing protocol provides management for the network layer and belongs to it.

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That is correct. In networks there is a difference between:

  • routed protocols like f.e. IPX, AppleTalk IP and IPv6, and
  • routing protocols which there are f.e. RIP/OSPF/BGP/EIGRP/IS-IS etc.

Most routing protocols use a routed protocol as transport to communicate with neighbors, but some routing protocols use a separate protocol to communicate with neighbors, instead of using a routed protocol.

I hope that clears a bit the question without explaining all the corner cases.

  • So I'm assuming network protocols are known as routed protocols then? – The_Bear Mar 11 at 13:26
  • Network protocol is a very generic description, but reading your initial question in this case it is true. – user54905 Mar 11 at 16:12

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