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CCNA Lesson 2: Time to Connect with Network Media

Welcome to Lesson Two my CCNA Jumpstart Course.
In Lesson1, we defined what a computer network is, and discussed the different
network topologies and operating systems that you are likely to encounter as a CCNA

Today’s lesson aims to equip you with skills that will be useful for your
CCNA study. We will get our hands dirty and start to dig deeper into the
network and discover the components that work behind the scenes.
By the end of this lesson, you will gain the fundamental knowledge to
tackle the following CCNA topics
“Describe how a network works”,”Configure, verify and troubleshoot a
switch with VLANs and interswitch communications”, and “Configure,
verify, and troubleshoot basic router operation and routing on Cisco
In addition we take you on a road of discovery to identify network elements
and media you can use to build a network.
By the end of this lesson you will be able to…
• Differentiate & choose the network media available and choose
nbsp based on the network’s needs.
• Describe the purpose and functions of various network devices.
If you are ready, let’s begin!
4 types of Network Media
You have your computers and peripherals up and running, so how do we
link them into one network? The network media gives the physical
connection to join the
devices together.
As an aspiring CCNA
Superstar, it is essential
to know the types of
network media we can
Figure 2.1 - The 4 types
of Networking
There are four types of
network media. We will
discuss each one in detail
as we move along.
• twisted-pair cable
• coaxial cable
• fiber-optic cable
• wireless/radio waves

1.Twisted-pair cable
· his is the most popular cabling used in LANs today. You might even · be
using one right now! It is the lightest, most flexible, least · expensive and
easiest to install than any other network medium.
This cable type consists of a pair of insulated
copper wires twisted to each other. The purpose of
these twists is to reduce interference and boost
More twists means better performance. There are
normally four pairs of wires in a cable, which are
usually terminated by an RJ-45 connector.
Figure 2.2 – An RJ-45 connector
Twisted-pair cables are further classified as STP (shielded) and UTP
(unshielded). In an STP cable, a metallic foil wraps each pair of wire. Then,
all pairs are wrapped again by a metallic braid or foil.
The foils should be grounded on both ends, otherwise it will pick up
unwanted signals. The foils enhance the ability of the wire to reduce
electrical noise from the outside.
Both foils are absent in the UTP cable. However, because of its cost and
ease of installation, UTP is more widely used than STP. The twisted-pair is
categorised based on TIA/EIA standards.
These are aptly named Category (or Cat) 1 to 7. Cat 1 supports only voice
communications. Cat 4 is used in Token Ring networks, and can support
data rates of up to 16Mbps.
Cat 5 can support up to 100 Mbps. Cat 5e is used in networks running at
speeds up to 1Gbps. Cat 6 and 7 supports 10 Gbps covering distances of up
to 100 meters.
2.Coaxial cable
The coaxial cable, or coax, has a high resistance to noise. It is capable of
supporting networks spanning up to 500 meters. However, it is a bit more
expensive than UTP or STP.
The coax consists of a core and layers of insulating shield. The core is the
main conductor where signals are being sent. It is usually made of copper.
The insulating shield is made up of three layers: (1) an inner insulating
material, (2) a foil or a woven copper braid, and (3) the plastic jacket.There
are two types of coaxial cable, Thinnet and Thicknet.
Thinnet is also known as 10BASE-2 Ethernet and is more flexible than
Thicknet or 10BASE-5 Ethernet.
3. Fiber optic cable
The introduction of fiber optic
technology brought computer
networking to new heights.
Fiber optic cables can support very fast
data transfer rates over longer distances.
It is also highly secure and immune to
However, it is costlier and more
difficult to implement than twisted-pair or coax cables.
Figure 2.3 – Parts of a Fiber Optic cable

The cable is made up of a core and a cladding. The core is made up of very
fine glass or plastic fibers. It is surrounded by a plastic or glass cladding,
which reflects light signals back to the core.
This occurs because the classing has a lower refractive index than the core.
Fiber optic cables can be grouped into single-mode fiber (SMF) and
multimode (MMF) fiber.
SMFs have a very small core. It is so small that light signals are travelling
in almost a straight line. They are more expensive than MMF.
In order to connect two fiber optic cables, a process called fiber splicing
must be done.
Figure 2.4 – A typical wireless network using an Access Point
4. Wireless
This medium sends data
signals into the atmosphere
via infrared or
RF waves. A special hub
called access point gives
access to all devices
within the network using an
Wireless LANS (WLANs) is
also widely known as Wi-Fi.
It uses the 2.4, 3.6 and 5
GHz frequency bands based on the IEEE 802.11 standards.
To the users, it offers unmatched convenience and mobility. It also requires
less effort to set up than its wired counterparts.
However, WLANs have to address stability and security issues often
associatedwith it. Nowadays, you can see shops, hotels and cafes offering
free Wi-Fi access. It is made possible through wireless networking.
Choosing the Right Network Elements
Choosing how and when to use the right network element is very crucial in
designing a network.
If you want to pass the CCNA exam, then it is very important for you to
spend extra time in studying this section

Figure 2.5 – The network symbols for different networking elements
We will now discuss the different types of network elements in detail.
1.Network Interface Card (NIC) or a Network Adapter
The NIC is a hardware mounted onto a computer that can translate, send
and received data across the network. It serves as the interface between the
computer and the network medium.
The NIC operates in the Layer 1 and 2 of the OSI Reference model.
Although it is not a separate element by itself, the NIC is an essential
element that makes computer networking possible. Without the NIC, there
would be no networking and no CCNA at all!
NICs come in different forms like PCI Ethernet cards, PCMCIA and
USB devices. Each NIC has a unique 48-bit identifier burned into its chip.
It is called a MAC (Multi-station Access Control) Address.
This identifier plays an important role in switching processes, which we
will discuss in the next lessons to come.
2. Repeater
The simplest network element available is the repeater. It is made up of just
one input port and one output port. It can only be used on Bus topologies.
What the repeater does is only to amplify the same data signals it receives.
This function is useful when covering longer distances, but it cannot do any
switching or routing tasks. That’s all the help that it can offer.
A hub is actually a repeater with multiple RJ-45 ports. It is a simple,
inexpensive networking device ideal for home and small office use. It
supports the Ethernet standards at data rates of 10/100 Mbps.
The hub is the heart and soul of the Star topology. All computers connect
directly to the hub in order to join the network. Several hubs can be stacked
together to connect more computers.
Like the repeater, a traditional hub simply passes data to all devices
connected to it. But recently, there is a special type of hub that can do basic
switching functions. It is called the switching hub.
A bridge is an intelligent repeater that connects two LANs of the same
protocol. It is intelligent because it can decide how to distribute a data
frame based on its content.
It can also be programmed to filter out certain types of data. The popularity
of bridges has dwindled in recent years with the advent of switches that are
capable of bridging tasks.
The switch is the hub’s smart, big brother. It can check data packets to
know its source and destination. Then it wisely forwards the packet only to
that destination.
This method boosts network performance by reducing data traffic. Switches
support Ethernet speeds of up to 1Gbps. You can think of each switch port
as a single bridge.
This bridging ability allows the switch to break the network into smaller,
logical pieces called Virtual LANs (VLANs). Similar to hubs, switches
can be stacked together to support more users in the network. Regular
switches operate on the Layer 2 of the OSI Reference Model.
Router switches are Layer 3 switches that have built-in routing features.In
the full CCNAPRO course you will be taught how to configure, verify and
troubleshoot Cisco switches and VLANS.
This topic is covered in more depth under the “Configure, Verify, &
Troubleshoot a Switch with
VLANS and Interswitch communications.” Lesson 3 will explain all you
need to know about layers.
The router is the crème de la crème of the networking world. It is the most
sophisticated, most intelligent networking device available. It has the
unique ability to connect dissimilar networks and route traffic in the
shortest path possible. Some routers combine firewall, switching and
bridging functions into a single box.
A typical router has its own processor, operating system, and memory. It
can filter traffic based on the IP address of senders and recipients stored in a
special file called routing table.
A router that acts as an end point and an access point in a network, can be
considered as a gateway. A router that combines bridging and routing
functions is called a brouter.
Understanding and managing the Cisco Router lay at the heart of a CCNA
job role. It fundamental that you know the workings of a Cisco router like
the back of your hand.
In CCNAPRO, you will be asked to describe the operations of a Cisco
router, configure, verify & troubleshoot a basic Cisco router and implement
basic router security.
The gateway serves as the interface between two networks of different
structures and protocols. It is located at the edge of the network and is the
network’s only entry and exit point. It is similar to a router in a way that it
can translate different data formats.
We have reached the end of today’s lesson. At this point, you should now
understand the concepts on how network elements and media work to make
the network function.
You should now be more confident when deciding which network hardware
is suitable depending on the needs of your network.
Tomorrow, we will be dealing with one of the most important topics that
the CCNA exam covers, the OSI Reference Model.

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Until then, Happy networking!

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