Difference between OSI and TCP/IP model

There are distinguishing characteristics between the two models, Open System Connection (OSI) and Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) reference models. They can be differentiated according to their;

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The OSI reference model has seven layers which are the Application, Presentation, Session, Transport, Network, Data-Link, and Physical layers. The TCP/ IP model has four layers which are the Application, Transport, the Internet and Network layers.


Delivery of packets

In the OSI model, the transport layer is active and guarantees conveyance of packets to their destination. It handles both reliable and unreliable delivery of information to the terminal. It breaks the data and allows transmission of missing packets if they get lost during the process. The transport layer of the TCP/IP model is reliable though it does not guarantee the delivery of packet data.


Replacing of protocols

The OSI reference model has hidden rules which can be replaced quickly because the technology is dynamic. Replacement in the Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol reference model is difficult because it doesn’t fit any protocol.


Precise definitions

The OSI reference model makes a clear distinction between the protocols, services, and interfaces. It categorizes them independently which makes it efficient in its operations. The TCP/IP model does not clearly outline the interfaces, protocols, and services and is usually dependent of the protocols.



The OSI reference model is generic and independent of the protocol standards. It acts as a gateway for communication between the network connection and the end user. In TCP/ IP reference model, the internet is developed on the standard protocols upon which it bases its operations. The connections of hosts are made across networks on the TCP/IP model which is a communication protocol.

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The OSI model takes a horizontal approach because there are no instant nodes between the transport layers and other layers. They always perform a direct communication with each other which gives it the parallel system of communication.

The TCP/IP model takes a vertical approach because the information is transmitted between each of the layers to access their functionality. The message travels through the application layer, transport layer, Internet layer, and network layer before the message is transmitted.

Unlike the TCP/IP model, protocols are often a problem to be fitted in the Open System Interconnection layer. In most circumstances, the OSI model has been used as a guidance tool, and it is where the networks are established. The TCP/IP reference model has a different initiative and is used as a way of implementing the OSI model.

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