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Classful network

Classful networking is the original method of determining whether an IP address belongs in the same IP network as another IP address.

It is also for establishing the host address size for any given IP address. The address mask, which is so commonly associated with an IP address today, was not required as the mask length was purely a function of the IP address. Any network device could inspect the first few bits of the 32 bit IP address to see which class it belonged to.

first bits
Mask (in dotted decimal)
Class A
Class B
Class C
Class D (multicast)
Class F (experimental)


The network is reserved for loopback addresses.

Early allocations of IP addresses by IANA were in some cases not made very efficiently. This resulted with some organisations receiving class A networks which has contributed to the IP address shortage[?].

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