Network Connection Devices

Posted on March 17, 2008 by Jared

ethernet cableIts easy to forget about all the small pieces of hardware that sit and hum along 24-7 just so that we can check our email or catch the latest stats for our fantasy team. Just what are those little boxes and why do they have so many little blinking lights?

Network connections are made possible by two main types of hardware: network media and network connectivity devices. This article is going to cover the later in enough detail to have you picking up the network-speak in no time. Network connection devices include:

  • Network interface cards (NIC)
  • Hubs
  • Switches
  • Bridges
  • Routers
  • Gateways
  • Modems

A NIC (network interface card) is a piece of hardware that allows you to plug in–or, interface with– a network cable. NIC’s are usually installed as an expansion card or is already built into your motherboard.

Hubs are devices that connect all of the segments of a network together. That is, every device on the network (computers, printers) has a cable that is also connected to the hub. Hubs work in such a way that every signal that is received on one port is rebroadcast to every other device. So, if one device sends a signal, all the other devices receive the signal, but only one particular device listens for it.

A switch is like a hub in that every device on the network is connected to it. However, a switch does not rebroadcast signals to all other devices. A switch makes a direct link between the device that is transmitting and the device that is receiving. All other devices are totally unaware of the communication taking place. For this reason, switches realize greater performance because bandwidth is not being wasted on needless rebroadcasting.

A bridge is used to to keep network traffic separated between network segments. Traffic is not allowed to pass through the bridge unless its destination is on the other side. Bridges are used to join to network segments or to divide a busy network into two segments.

Routers are devices that can connect several network segments (even segments that are not alike in type). The router has the ability to make decisions about the best way to send network traffic to its destination.

A Gateway is any device that connects network environments that are not alike. For example, a gateway is used to connect LAN (local area network) environments to mainframe environments.

Modems (modulator/demodulator) are devices that change digital data into analog for transmission over analog network medium and then back to digital at the receiving end. There are several types of modems; some losing popularity and others gaining more and more use. These are:

  • Telephone (POTS – Plain Old Telephone Service)
  • DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)
  • Cable

I hope this has shed some light on the various network connection devices. Of course, there’s an enormous amount on information on this subject out on the web. If you’re really serious about getting into networking, grab a study guide for getting certified in the subject (Network +). These books have zero fluff and do a great job presenting the material. They are invaluable and can be very helpful… even if you’re not looking to get certified.

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13 Responses to “Network Connection Devices”

  1. Howard on May 11th, 2009 6:09 am

    What I like about this information is the way you have listed each of the components and then described them. I like information to be kept seperate and simple based on the same topic and not all jumbled and squashed together, like wikipedia.

  2. ssuuna on October 22nd, 2009 3:02 am

    i have liked your brief direct explanations given above.but could you please give me devices involved in connecting a network of 50 computers?

  3. Priyank on February 18th, 2010 12:44 pm

    Which Are The Other Network Connection Devices apart form this all above ?????

    Help Guys !!!!

  4. tony on February 20th, 2010 6:17 pm

    definations have help much. I want to know if a device is to receive phone calls
    while on dialup computer same line and where to get?

  5. AAAAnand on April 28th, 2010 7:19 am

    i want to know more about networking./………..

    plese help me…

  6. pooja raghav on November 10th, 2010 8:49 am

    ya really this information is very helpful and I want further about all topics.

  7. Dinesh Gill on February 26th, 2011 8:54 pm

    I want to show the different image of network connecting device.

  8. bruno on April 1st, 2011 3:34 am

    we can connect network devices with utp cables then what is the difference btn RJ-11 and RJ_45?help guys

  9. Jared Holt on May 11th, 2011 8:34 am

    RJ11 (Registered Jack 11) is commonly referred to as a “phone jack.” You’ll use it to connect phones and dial-up modems. RJ45 is used for network connections.

    Also, note that a “registered jack” is a standard set by the FCC that outlines a wiring pattern and not the actual shape of the connectors. So, each basic jack style (physical shape) could be wired for different RJ configurations.

    If you dig deeper into this subject, you’ll find that there’s actually quite a bit of naming confusion. However, you can usually refer to a jack type and wiring by RJ11, RJ45, etc. and a fellow tech should understand what you’re talking about.

  10. Almaz on May 31st, 2011 7:44 am

    Plese send me the configration of swtich Clearly in a simpl way

  11. roopa joshi on July 23rd, 2011 10:25 pm

    please tell me any book of connectivity devics from which i can study more about d netwrks.

    thank u so much.

  12. john on July 28th, 2011 12:46 pm

    There are many network devices that are used to connect system with net and these devices and description are listed here

  13. kapil on June 23rd, 2012 2:05 am

    Great Article Regarding Network Connection devices..

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