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Definition: public IP address


The public-facing numeric address of every home with a wireless router or business network connected to the Internet. Assigned by the cable, telecom or satellite company, all outgoing queries and requests to the Internet are identified by the public IP address so that all incoming responses are sent back to this address. The URL of a website is the human-readable name associated with this numeric IP address.

In contrast, the IP addresses of each workstation and server in a network are private, residing behind a firewall and network translation system (see NAT). See IP address, URL, cable modem and DSL modem.

Companies are generally assigned a static address that never changes, whereas residential customers may see their public IP address change from time to time.

Find Your Public IP
There are websites that report your public-facing IP address by merely going to the site; for example, www.whatsmyip.org and www.ipchicken.com.