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?

  • 2
    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, 2019 at 18:15

3 Answers 3


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.


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, 2019 at 13:26
  • Network protocol is a very generic description, but reading your initial question in this case it is true.
    – user54905
    Mar 11, 2019 at 16:12

Network protocol include all protocols in entire networking concepts where as routing protocols are considered as subset of network protocols

Network protocol includes

  1. Spaning tree protocols (STP, RSTP, MSTP)
  2. Routing protocols ( rip,OSPF,bgp,EIGRP,ripv2 ,is-is,igrp)
  3. Routed protocols (IPV4v4 & IPV6)

IPsec protocols

  1. Encapsulation security payload (ESP)
  2. Authentication header(AH)

Routing protocols

1 ) Static routing protocols

2 ) Routing information protocols (RIP)


4 ) OSPF

5 ) IS-IS

6 )BGP

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