You may be wondering what is included in my field for the Networking Infrastructure. Well, every home network is made up of a combination of the following:
Note: All layers mentioned here are in terms of the OSI Model unless otherwise noted
A Hub or Repeater operates on Layer 1 of the OSI Model (Physical). It is a "dumb" device since the only objective it has is to transfer bits between one interface to the next interface. The device forwards all bits received toward all of its other ports. It does not think for itself, so a packet "collision" is possible when two packets are sent at the same time to any port.
Most switches operate on Layer 2 of the OSI Model (Data Link). It is considered a smarter device than a hub due to the fact that it uses a Media Access Control (MAC) address table to correlate frames to specific interfaces. The role of switch is to expand connectivity to multiple devices in a network. In most households we use Layer 2 Switches, which are responsible for memorizing the MAC address table and what port/interface is associated with that entry. Switches, however, can operate on multiple layers of the OSI model. A switch with layer 3 capabilities can take up some of the functions of a router below for routing packets between different networks or subnets.
A Router operates on Layer 3 of the OSI Model (Network). There are many different types of routers though they function at a similar fundamental level. The primary functions of a router are to transfer packets between different networks, negotiate routing protocols with other routers and manage routes. These protocols and routes allow the router to know about where to forward packets so they can reach their intended destination. Many home routers receive a default route from the ISP to forward all traffic to the ISPs router specifically. From there, the ISP router maintains a full table of routes on the Internet in order to have your traffic reach its destination. The Internet as a whole is mostly comprised of routers. Usually much more powerful, comprising of several different types of connections including serial, phone lines, Ethernet, fiber-optic or coaxial cables.
- Wireless Access Points (WAP)
These can either be extensions of a current wireless network or allow for a wireless network to be created from a wired only topology. These devices operate on the IEEE 802.11 standards, which is the underlying creation of "Wi-Fi". These operate on Radio Waves in a means of communications. These are broken down to two different classifications. Wireless Frequency in Megahertz, and Wireless Channel. The listing is below
2.4 GHz ISM Frequency Range (Click to show)
- Networking Interface Cards (NIC)
Networking interface cards are what essentially connects your home network together with wires. These NICs can be used in any type of connection field (IE: Ethernet, Fiber-Optic, etc). Usually, most home and residential NICs only contain a RJ-45 (networking) jack connection.
- Wireless Network Interface Cards (WNIC)
Wireless network cards are the wireless equivalents of their NIC brothers. However, these cards operate on wireless radio frequencies. They offer varying inter-operable standards for connectivity among a variety of frequency ranges depending on the card (2.4/5 GHz).