What Are the Advantages of Standardized Networking Protocols?

By Stephen Byron Cooper

Protocols standardize procedures for networks.
i network image by Edvin selimovic from Fotolia.com

Computer programs can only interact if they follow the same standards. Networks allow programs running on different computers to interact. Those programs could be written by different software producers. Standardized networking protocols are necessary to ensure that all communicating software can understand each other.


A programmer might decide to create a field in a data packet with a code field where "1" means "Accept," and "2" means "Reject." But unless this interpretation of the code is made available to other programs, that program will only be able to send messages to the same program running on a different computer. Networking protocols ensure that no one programmer has the responsibility for deciding operating procedure for a networked function.


Published standardized networking protocols enable competition. With a common standard to reference, any software house can produce programs which are automatically compatible with other programs running in the same field. This enables competition, which promotes innovation and lowers prices.

Trade Secrets

Some networking standards are proprietary. A company may decide to keep its operating protocols an in-house secret to prevent other companies competing in a field that they dominate. ithin the company, protocols have to be written and circulated to ensure that all their programs are compatible. This proprietary system might involve a wide range of functions and cover several different protocols.

Mixed Implementations

A networked system could involve a combination of both "open" (publicly available) and "closed" (proprietary secrets) protocols. A new application may require a standard protocol to be adapted in order to function correctly. In this instance, the company creating the software is not following existing protocols, but creating a new one.


Some situations require a company to create its own new protocol in order to release a new product to the public. International standards bodies do not produce new standards quickly, so an innovative company may have to produce new standards and publish them themselves, hoping that other companies will jump on the standard and create extra facilities for the new product. This scenario is particularly seen in the fast developing field of wireless networks. There are many open standards in this area which were originally created by a company rather than a standards body. Many are later adopted as an international standards.


A number of trade groupings create user groups to support a specific area of implementation -- such as industrial applications or process flow networking for utility companies. This enables a group of producers to promote their products within a framework of mutual support among their users. Other trade associations are created by the holders of patented protocols to generate an income from the patent by encouraging other companies to pay a fee to use them and expand the protocol's popularity.