Wired Hubs, Switches, Signal Boosters/Repeaters & Wireless Access Points
Networks are more than computers and wiring. There also have to be specific devices—specialized pieces of hardware—that handles electrical/digital connections and perform their unique roles efficiently.
Most networks are small—think of a small office or home—and even large networks (like the internet) are often divided into smaller segments. That smaller segment is set apart from the larger network by a device that can filter data and help the network to be more efficient.
These network devices that filter traffic are called connectivity devices & are of several different types:
A Hub is connectivity device to which network cables are attached to form a network segment. Hubs typically do not filter data, but instead retransmit incoming data packets or frames to all parts.
Almost all networks today use a central hub or switch to which the computers on the network connect. In a hubbed network, each computer is connected to the hub through a single line. That makes adding a host to the network, or taking it off, a simple task.
A Switch is aware of addresses associated with each of its ports and forwards each incoming data frame to the correct port. Switches can base forwarding decisions on guidelines that are provided in the headers of the TCP/IP protocols.
A switch, simplified, is a smarter version of a hub. On a switch, as with a hub, each computer is connected through a single line. However, the switch is smarter about where it sends data that comes in through one of its ports.
The Router is a connectivity device that filters and forwards data based on a logical address. In the case of TCP/IP networks, that would be the IP address.
Routers are an essential part of any larger TCP/IP network. In fact, without the development of network routers and TCP/IP routing protocols, the Internet (the biggest network in the world) would not have become as extensive. Routers play a vital role in controlling traffic and keeping the network efficient.
Wireless Access Point
The Wireless access point allows network users to add devices that access the network with few or no cables. A WAP normally connects directly to a wired Ethernet connection and the WAP then provides wireless connections using radio frequency links for other devices to utilize that wired connection. Most WAPs support the connection of multiple wireless devices to one wired connection. Modern WAPs are built to support a standard for sending and receiving data using these radio frequencies. Those standards and the frequencies they use are defined by the IEEE. Most APs use IEEE 802.11 standards.
A WiFi repeater or extender is used to extend the coverage area of your WiFi network. It works by receiving your existing WiFi signal, amplifying it and then transmitting the boosted signal. With a WiFi repeater you can effectively double the coverage area of your WiFi network - reaching far corners of your home or office, different floors, or even extend coverage of an organizational facility or open area with the use of strategically placed repeaters.
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