Processes transmit data by calling on the TCP and passing buffers of data as arguments. The TCP packages the data from these buffers into segments and calls on the internet module to transmit each segment to the destination TCP. The receiving TCP places the data from a segment into the receiving user's buffer and notifies the receiving user. The TCPs include control information in the segments which they use to ensure reliable ordered data transmission.
The model of internet communication is that there is an internet protocol module associated with each TCP which provides an interface to the local network. This internet module packages TCP segments inside internet datagrams and routes these datagrams to a destination internet module or intermediate gateway. To transmit the datagram through the local network, it is embedded in a local network packet.
The packet switches may perform further packaging, fragmentation, or other operations to achieve the delivery of the local packet to the destination internet module.
At a gateway between networks, the internet datagram is "unwrapped" from its local packet and examined to determine through which network the internet datagram should travel next. The internet datagram is then "wrapped" in a local packet suitable to the next network and routed to the next gateway, or to the final destination.
A gateway is permitted to break up an internet datagram into smaller internet datagram fragments if this is necessary for transmission through the next network. To do this, the gateway produces a set of internet datagrams; each carrying a fragment. Fragments may be further broken into smaller fragments at subsequent gateways. The internet datagram fragment format is designed so that the destination internet module can reassemble fragments into internet datagrams.
A destination internet module unwraps the segment from the datagram (after reassembling the datagram, if necessary) and passes it to the destination TCP.
This simple model of the operation glosses over many details. One important feature is the type of service. This provides information to the gateway (or internet module) to guide it in selecting the service parameters to be used in traversing the next network. Included in the type of service information is the precedence of the datagram. Datagrams may also carry security information to permit host and gateways that operate in multilevel secure environments to properly segregate datagrams for security considerations.