In a system employing layered protocols (see seven-layer reference model), different forms of addressing may be used at different levels. The data link level may use addresses that identify specific stations on a multidrop line. The network level uses addresses that identify the source and destination hosts associated with a packet. Higher protocol layers may use addresses that distinguish different connections or processes.
Addresses may be fixed-length or extensible. In fixed-length addressing all addresses occupy a fixed number of digits. An example is the Ethernet protocol, which uses 48-bit addresses. In extensible addressing the length of an address may vary from case to case. For example, in X121 “international data numbers” are defined and these may be from 3 to 14 decimal digits in length.
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