Different networking devices have different roles to play in a computer network. These network devices also work at different segments of a computer network performing different works. Let’s us talk about different networking devices like a switch, router, hub, bridge etc.
Different networking devices:
Network Hub is a networking device which is used to connect multiple network hosts. A network hub is also used to do data transfer. The data is transferred in terms of packets on a computer network. when a host sends a data packet to a network hub, the hub copies the data packet to all of its ports connected to. Like this, all the ports know about the data and the port for whom the packet is intended, claims the packet.
However, because of its working mechanism, a hub is not so secure and safe. Moreover, copying the data packets on all the interfaces or ports makes it slower and more congested which led to the use of network switch.
2. Network Switch
Like a hub, a switch also works at the layer of LAN (Local Area Network) but you can say that a switch is more intelligent than a hub. While hub just does the work of data forwarding, a switch does ‘filter and forwarding’ which is a more intelligent way of dealing with the data packets.
when a packet is received at one of the interfaces of the switch, it filters the packet and sends only to the interface of the intended receiver. For this purpose, a switch also maintains a CAM (Content Addressable Memory) table and has its own system configuration and memory. CAM table is also called as forwarding table or forwarding information base (FIB).
A Modem is somewhat a more interesting network device in our daily life. If you have noticed around, you get an internet connection through a wire (there are different types of wires) to your house. This wire is used to carry our internet data outside to the internet world.
However, our computer generates binary data or digital data in forms of 1s and 0s and on the other hand, a wire carries an analog signal and that’s where a modem comes in.
A modem stands for (Modulator + Demodulator). That means it modulates and demodulates the signal between the digital data of a computer and the analog signal of a telephone line.
4. Network Router
A router is a network device which is responsible for routing traffic from one to another network. These two networks could be a private company network to a public network. You can think of a router as a traffic police who directs different network traffic to different directions.
If a router connects two different types of networks, then a bridge connects two subnetworks as a part of the same network. You can think of two different labs or two different floors connected by a bridge.
A repeater is an electronic device that amplifies the signal it receives. In other terms, you can think of repeater as a device which receives a signal and retransmits it at a higher level or higher power so that the signal can cover longer distances.
For example, inside a college campus, the hostels might be far away from the main college where the ISP line comes in. If the college authority wants to pull a wire in between the hostels and main campus, they will have to use repeaters if the distance is much because different types of cables have limitations in terms of the distances they can carry the data for. When these network devices take a particular configurational shape on a network, their configuration gets a particular name and the whole formation is called Network topology.
Cable is the medium through which information usually moves from one network device to another. There are several types of cable which are commonly used with LANs. In some cases, a network will utilize only one type of cable, other networks will use a variety of cable types. The type of cable chosen for a network is related to the network's topology, protocol, and size.
The different types of cables used in networks and other related topics.
- Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Cable
- Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) Cable
- Coaxial Cable
- Fiber Optic Cable
- Cable Installation Guides
- Wireless LANs
- Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Cable
Twisted pair cabling comes in two varieties: shielded and unshielded. Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) is the most popular and is generally the best option for school networks. Unshielded Twisted Pair Connector.
Twisted pair cabling comes in two varieties: shielded and unshielded. Unshielded twisted pair (UTP) is the most popular and is generally the best option for school networks (See fig. 2).
Fig.2. Unshielded twisted pair
The standard connector for unshielded twisted pair cabling is an RJ-45 connector. This is a plastic connector that looks like a large telephone-style connector (See fig. 2). A slot allows the RJ-45 to be inserted only one way. RJ stands for Registered Jack, implying that the connector follows a standard borrowed from the telephone industry. This standard designates which wire goes with each pin inside the connector.
Fig. 2. RJ-45 connector
Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) Cable
Although UTP cable is the least expensive cable, it may be susceptible to radio and electrical frequency interference (it should not be too close to electric motors, fluorescent lights, etc.). If you must place cable in environments with lots of potential interference, or if you must place cable in extremely sensitive environments that may be susceptible to the electrical current in the UTP, shielded twisted pair may be the solution. Shielded cables can also help to extend the maximum distance of the cables.
Shielded twisted pair cable is available in three different configurations:
- Each pair of wires is individually shielded with foil.
- There is a foil or braid shield inside the jacket covering all wires (as a group).
- There is a shield around each individual pair, as well as around the entire group of wires (referred to as double shield twisted pair).
Coaxial cabling has a single copper conductor at its canter. A plastic layer provides insulation between the canter conductor and a braided metal shield. The metal shield helps to block any outside interference from fluorescent lights, motors, and other computers.
Fig. 3. Coaxial cable
Although coaxial cabling is difficult to install, it is highly resistant to signal interference. In addition, it can support greater cable lengths between network devices than twisted pair cable. The two types of coaxial cabling are thick coaxial and thin coaxial.
Thin coaxial cable is also referred to as thinnet. 10Base2 refers to the specifications for thin coaxial cable carrying Ethernet signals. The 2 refers to the approximate maximum segment length being 200 meters. In actual fact the maximum segment length is 185 meters. Thin coaxial cable has been popular in school networks, especially linear bus networks.
Thick coaxial cable is also referred to as thicknet. 10Base5 refers to the specifications for thick coaxial cable carrying Ethernet signals. The 5 refers to the maximum segment length being 500 meters. Thick coaxial cable has an extra protective plastic cover that helps keep moisture away from the canter conductor. This makes thick coaxial a great choice when running longer lengths in a linear bus network. One disadvantage of thick coaxial is that it does not bend easily and is difficult to install.
Coaxial Cable Connectors
The most common type of connector used with coaxial cables is the Bayone-Neill-Concelman (BNC) connector (See fig. 4). Different types of adapters are available for BNC connectors, including a T-connector, barrel connector, and terminator. Connectors on the cable are the weakest points in any network. To help avoid problems with your network, always use the BNC connectors that crimp, rather screw, onto the cable.
Fig. 4. BNC connector
Fiber Optic Cable
Fiber optic cabling consists of a center glass core surrounded by several layers of protective materials (See fig. 5). It transmits light rather than electronic signals eliminating the problem of electrical interference. This makes it ideal for certain environments that contain a large amount of electrical interference. It has also made it the standard for connecting networks between buildings, due to its immunity to the effects of moisture and lighting.
Fiber optic cable has the ability to transmit signals over much longer distances than coaxial and twisted pair. It also has the capability to carry information at vastly greater speeds. This capacity broadens communication possibilities to include services such as video conferencing and interactive services. The cost of fiber optic cabling is comparable to copper cabling; however, it is more difficult to install and modify. 10BaseF refers to the specifications for fiber optic cable carrying Ethernet signals.
The center core of fiber cables is made from glass or plastic fibers (see fig 4). A plastic coating then cushions the fiber center, and kevlar fibers help to strengthen the cables and prevent breakage. The outer insulating jacket made of teflon or PVC.
Fig. 5. Fiber optic cable
There are two common types of fiber cables -- single mode and multimode. Multimode cable has a larger diameter; however, both cables provide high bandwidth at high speeds. Single mode can provide more distance, but it is more expensive
Installing Cable - Some Guidelines
When running cable, it is best to follow a few simple rules:
- Always use more cable than you need. Leave plenty of slack.
- Test every part of a network as you install it. Even if it is brand new, it may have problems that will be difficult to isolate later.
- Stay at least 3 feet away from fluorescent light boxes and other sources of electrical interference.
- If it is necessary to run cable across the floor, cover the cable with cable protectors.
- Label both ends of each cable.
- Use cable ties (not tape) to keep cables in the same location together.
More and more networks are operating without cables, in the wireless mode. Wireless LANs use high frequency radio signals, infrared light beams, or lasers to communicate between the workstations, servers, or hubs. Each workstation and file server on a wireless network has some sort of transceiver/antenna to send and receive the data. Information is relayed between transceivers as if they were physically connected. For longer distance, wireless communications can also take place through cellular telephone technology, microwave transmission, or by satellite.
Wireless networks are great for allowing laptop computers, portable devices, or remote computers to connect to the LAN. Wireless networks are also beneficial in older buildings where it may be difficult or impossible to install cables.
The two most common types of infrared communications used in schools are line-of-sight and scattered broadcast. Line-of-sight communication means that there must be an unblocked direct line between the workstation and the transceiver. If a person walks within the line-of-sight while there is a transmission, the information would need to be sent again. This kind of obstruction can slow down the wireless network. Scattered infrared communication is a broadcast of infrared transmissions sent out in multiple directions that bounces off walls and ceilings until it eventually hits the receiver. Networking communications with laser are virtually the same as line-of-sight infrared networks.