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Network hardware

Besides a physical medium, a network operation needs devices that are designed to handle certain network functions. The devices are often called networking devices or equipment and specifically referred to as network components in this guide. Each network component has a name that is related to its functions. For example, a network adapter works to "adapt" a computer message that is going to be sent to a network, to a format that is defined by the network. A network component's functions are not necessarily handled by a specific device. If you browse a networking products catalog, you will find that many products combine several networking components in a device. For example: a router that has a built-in switch, a residential gateway that includes a broadband modem, etc. So, be sure to check the product specification before buying to avoid duplication. You must also check interfaces that are supported by a product. They must be compatible with the ports available in your computers or other devices. A network component's functions may also be performed by a software application. For example, Windows XP provides built-in support for Network Bridging that handle a bridge's functions in a home network with mixed media. There are also built-in or add-on software applications that handle modem, router, or gateway functions. However, the software-only alternative is mostly suitable for small networks.

Bridge-When you have two or more networks with different layer 2 protocols, such
as Ethernet, HomePNA,HomePlug, and wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) you can connect the networks using a bridge. Bridge is also used to split a network into separate segments. This is intended to filter traffic and create an efficient network. A bridge function can be handled by a software application. In Windows XP, when you install two or more network adapters, a Network Bridge is automatically created for you. A Network Bridge icon will appear in the Network Connections folder. However in Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2), a Network Bridge will be created only after user confirmation. This behavior is in line with SP2 main goal, that's to improve computer and network security.

Hub-Hub is the central connection point in a network. Hub is used in a network that
uses star topology. A sending computer transmits its signal to a hub, the hub then retransmits the signal to all other computers. A passive hub functions as a relay station that receives and retransmits signal. An active hub functions as a repeater that regenerates signal before retransmitting. Using a hub, the network bandwidth (capacity) is shared by all available computers, therefore each computer only uses a portion of bandwidth. That's why hub is mostly used in small networks where there are only a few connected devices or computers. However, hub is not required if there are only two computers in a network. In that case, a direct connection using cable or wireless link can be used to connect both computers.

Switch-Like hub, switch works as the central connection point in a network. However
when a switch receives a packet from a sending computer, it examines the destination

It is often called NIC (network interface card) usually inserted into aPCI slot in a PC or a mini PCI slot in a notebook. usually the path will be the shortest and the most reliable. At the sending end. Router-Router functions to forward packets across different networks. Built-in network adapter is integrated with a computer motherboard. A network adapter is identified in a network through a MAC address that is hardcoded onto the hardware by its manufacturer. Router determines the best path to deliver a packet based on the routing algorithm it uses. e. There are many types of modulation techniques used in modem design.address (i. . Switch is not always a separate device. error correction. Modem-Modem means modulator-demodulator. QAM. Using a switch. backbone router. the modulated carrier is demodulated(i. That's why most big networks in which a large amount of data must be transferred at any given time. External adapter also comes in the forms of PC Card (PCMCIA card) for notebooks. That's possible because a switch maintains a table that maps all its ports with all connected devices' MAC addresses. Network Adapter-Network adapter works as an interface between a computer or device and a network. QPSK. or HomePlug network adapter depending on the type of network your computer is connecting to. Network adapter converts a computer message into electrical or optical signals for transmission across the network. compression/decompression. router is often named according to its capacity or its position in the network. In a static router the routing table is configured manually.e. A modem also performs other functions. and encryption/decryption. HomePNA. parallel port.e. a modem modulates a carrier with the data (baseband signal) to prepare it for transmission. PCM. Internal network adapter is installed inside a computer on an expansion slot. Wi-Fi. MAC address of the destination computer) from the packet header and retransmits the packet to the destination computer only. the whole bandwidth can be used by each connected computer. External network adapter is a separate device that is connected to a computer via serial port. core router. it is very often integrated with router. or SD (Secure Digital) card for consumer electronics (such as digital camera). use a switch instead of hub. You may find these terms: edge router. In publications. CF card for PDAs. The routing table contains IP addresses of other networks routers. converted back to the original shape) and the data is extracted. a router examines the packet destination IP address and forwards it to its destination by looking at the routing table. is commonly known as residential gateway. Router maintains a routing table. and mostly USB port. And a type of router specially designed for home Internet users. while a dynamic router can communicate with other routers and configure the routing table according to information it receives from other routers.g. You may needEthernet. such as digital-to-analog/analog-to-digital conversion. At the receiving end. When receiving a packet.

or broadband modem. The exact coverage depends on the access point transceiver and antenna design. and receive Internet content forwarded by the ISP (downstream).11b or 802. Most wireless access points also function as a network bridge that connects the Wi-Fi network to a wired network such as Ethernet. a cable modem.most existing hotspots are served by 802. The type of modem that you need depends on the Internet access method that you choose.802.11b or 802. You can use either 802.11b. 802. In typical indoor application. however the number of repeaters is not unlimited.11b or 802. Data transfer rate decreases as the distance from a computer or a device to the access point increases. Below are things that you need to consider if you want to connect your computer to a hotspot: . .11g access point. You may have heard about wireless router which is an access point that has a built-in router. Access Point-Access point in wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) functions like a hub or a switch in wired network. hotels. Some vendors name it range expander or line (cable) extender. and cafs provide public Wi-Fi hotspots that have broadband connection to the Internet. A Wi-Fi access point provides wireless network coverage within an area of up to about 100 meters outdoor. It connects computers or devices together to create a wireless network.802. Some access points come as a multi-function device that incorporates the functions of switch. A repeater is put in a network to extend the network to a longer distance or a greater area.You must connect your computer to a modem or install an internal modem inside your computer when you want to connect to the Internet. bridge. because additional repeaters may introduce more interference or noise. . your wireless network adapter must be compatible with the hotspot's access point. Access point is also known as base station. amplifies it. and retransmits it to a receiver. router.11a is not compatible with 802.11a network card can only work with . you can't expect the best performance of your Wireless G adapter if it is connected to a Wireless B access point. transmit your computer message to the ISP (upstream). Such hotspots can be accessed by the public for free or with a fee. But.11g adapter. You may need a voiceband modem. There can be more than one repeater between a transmitter and a receiver. Physical obstacles and interference from other wireless networks can reduce the wireless signal range. Repeater-Repeater receives signal from a transmitter.11g adapter to connect to 802. an access point can cover an area of up to about 50 meters. An access point has an interface to a broadband modem or a router that is used when the Wi-Fi network connects to the Internet. an ADSL modem. or a GPRS modem. An area that is within a Wi-Fi network coverage is popularly known as hotspot. Repeater is also known as regenerator. Your modem will communicate with the corresponding modem at your ISP during an Internet connection. Many public places such as airports. You can use either 802.11g access points. To connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot.11g is backward compatible with 802.11b/g.

To apply WPA/WPA2. . a gateway connects the VoIP network to the PSTN. And the fact that some public hotspots even don't turn on the encryption increases the vulnerability of your data. or bridge. and anti-spyware. you don't have to manually set an IP address for each computer in your network because a residential gateway usually has DHCP server. In Internet Telephony. wireless access point. Some residential gateways also already include broadband (cable/DSL) modem. By using a residential gateway to connect your home network to the Internet.WPA/WPA2 encryption is stronger than WEP. . and having a regularly updated OS.11a is rarely used in public hotspot. using strong password. A residential gateway also keeps your computers anonymous on the Internet because it translates the IP address of each computer to an IP address assigned by the ISP. the access point and your Wi-Fi adapter must support WPA/WPA2. you can't expect to meet a WPA-enabled access point. switch.most public hotspots only support the legacy WEP encryption that was proven susceptible to eavesdropping by hackers with specialized tools. If you want to use your Wi-Fi network to make a good quality VoIP call or run other realtime and multimedia applications.e. you'd better choose an access point and network adapters that support QoS and have passed the new WMM certification.11a access point. Besides. it most likely incorporates other functions such as hub. Although gateway is considered a Layer 7 device in many publications. turning on firewall. . IP address for each computer is assigned dynamically by the residential gateway. But fortunately. .802. turning off file sharing. . But in most installed public Wi-Fi networks. 802. This function is called Network Address Translation (NAT). It performs protocol translation. use VPNto put your data in a secure tunnel. With a residential gateway. Gateway-Gateway functions to connect two completely different networks. anti-virus.if you don't want to risk your password or other personal information when accessing the Internet from a public hotspot then you must make sure you only input such sensitive data to secure websites (i.if you want to connect to your office network or even your home network from a public hotspot. such as never exchanging sensitive personal or corporate data over such public network. Residential gateway is also known as broadband router or Internet gateway device (IGD). you don't need to always turn on a computer as an ICS host. a residential gateway protects your home network from intruders that try to gain access through certain applications in your computers because it has built-in firewall. However when you buy a residential gateway. it actually works across the seven layers of theOSI Model. those with https://) and use only Web-based e-mail client when reading and sending e-mails. It is mostly used in corporate networks that have high user density. Do some precautionary actions. Residential Gateway-Residential gateway is basically a router that is configured to enable the sharing of a single Internet connection (subscription) by multiple users in a home network. Using DHCP.