IP stands for Internet Protocol, so an IP address is an Internet Protocol address. What does that mean? An Internet Protocol is a set of rules that govern Internet activity and facilitate completion of a variety of actions on the World Wide Web. Therefore an Internet Protocol address is part of the systematically laid out interconnected grid that governs online communication by identifying both initiating devices and various Internet destinations, thereby making two-way communication possible.
IP address consists of four numbers, each of which contains one to three digits, with a single dot (.) separating each number or set of digits. Each of the four numbers can range from 0 to 255. Here's an example of what an IP address might look like: 188.8.131.52. This innocuous-looking group of four numbers is the key that empowers you and me to send and retrieve data over our Internet connections, ensuring that our messages, as well as our requests for data and the data we've requested, will reach their correct Internet destinations. Without this numeric protocol, sending and receiving data over the World Wide Web would be impossible.
Static IP address are generally preferable for such uses as VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), online gaming, or any other purpose where users need to make it easy for other computers to locate and connect to them. Easy access can also be facilitated when using a dynamic IP address through the use of a dynamic DNS service, which enables other computers to find you even though you may be using a temporary, one-time IP address. This often entails an extra charge, however, so check with your ISP.
Dynamic IP address are temporary and are assigned each time a computer accesses the Internet. They are, in effect, borrowed from a pool of IP addresses that are shared among various computers. Since a limited number of static IP addresses are available, many ISPs reserve a portion of their assigned addresses for sharing among their subscribers in this way. This lowers costs and allows them to service far more subscribers than they otherwise could.