How do you calculate the number of subnets in a given IP address range?

Calculating the number of subnets in a given IP address range involves understanding the subnetting process and the associated subnet mask. Subnetting is a technique used to divide a larger IP network into smaller, more manageable subnetworks. This process allows for efficient utilization of IP addresses and better network management.

Here are the steps to calculate the number of subnets in a given IP address range:

  1. Understand the IP Address Range:
    Identify the IP address range you are working with. This range is typically represented with a starting IP address and an ending IP address. The IP addresses are written in dotted-decimal format (e.g.,
  2. Determine the Subnet Mask:
    Subnet masks are used to divide an IP address into network and host portions. The subnet mask is a 32-bit value that consists of consecutive 1s followed by consecutive 0s. The number of 1s in the subnet mask determines the size of the network portion.For example, a subnet mask of in binary is 11111111.11111111.11111111.00000000. This means the first 24 bits are allocated for the network portion, leaving 8 bits for host addresses.
  3. Count the Number of Subnet Bits:
    Determine the number of bits allocated for subnets in the subnet mask. This is calculated by subtracting the default subnet mask bits (usually 8, 16, or 24 bits) from the total number of bits in an IP address (32 bits).For example, if the default subnet mask is 24 bits, and the total bits in an IP address are 32, then 32 - 24 = 8 bits are available for subnetting.
  4. Calculate the Number of Subnets:
    The number of subnets is calculated using the formula 2^n, where 'n' is the number of subnet bits. This formula represents the number of possible combinations of 1s and 0s in the subnet portion of the address.Using the example from step 3, if there are 8 bits for subnetting, then 2^8 = 256 subnets are possible.
  5. Consider Reserved and Broadcast Addresses:
    In practice, not all subnets are usable for hosts. Some addresses are reserved for special purposes, such as network and broadcast addresses. The number of usable subnets may be slightly less than the total number calculated in step 4.
  6. Account for Network and Broadcast Addresses in Each Subnet:
    Within each subnet, there are two reserved addresses: the network address (all host bits set to 0) and the broadcast address (all host bits set to 1). Subtracting these two addresses from the total number of addresses in each subnet gives you the number of usable host addresses.For example, if each subnet has 256 addresses and 2 are reserved for network and broadcast, then there are 254 usable host addresses per subnet.