Networking Hardware 101
Networking Hardware 101
Hello there. It’s been a while. Sorry for the delay;-;
What makes a router
Routers are basically a really small computer with limited functionality. They too have processors, RAM, and storage, although no way near as powerful as our PCs or mobiles. The router we all have in our homes may consist of a combination of many networking components; namely:
It converts the analogue data travelling through the telephone or fibre optic wire into digital data to be used by your devices. It is the first thing the incoming data (or download) goes through.
2) Wireless access point
It emits the digital data signals so you can connect to the network wirelessly.
3) Network switch
It assigns various connected devices different IP address on the local network so it can differentiate between them and is responsible for distributing and receiving the data so that the right data is received by the right device. And as you just have one internet connection, i.e. only one device can send or receive data at any given moment, the switch switches between all the connected devices multiple time in a second and enables you to have a smooth network connection on multiple devices at once. All routers have this.
Here is a list of ports most commonly found on home routers:
DSL port (female RJ11)
This port is found on modems for ADSL or telephone line connections. This means your router has an inbuilt modem.
LAN Ethernet ports (female RJ45)
These may be in varying numbers on different router models. These are used to connect a PC to the router using an ethernet wire.
WAN port (female RJ45)
This port is differently coloured than the LAN ports and is only present if your router doesn’t have an inbuilt modem. It takes input via an ethernet cable directly from your ISP or a separate modem or router.
It’s used for connecting a storage device and making it accessible via any device connected to the network or connecting a printer to give print commands from any device connected to the network.
Types of Routers
Here is a list of commonly used routers:
These don’t do much and just have one LAN port as output. People who already have a wireless router are benefitted with this. These don’t have an inbuilt network switch.
ADSL modem + wireless router
These are really common as ADSL is widely used by major ISPs. These have an inbuilt modem and are your one box solution if you have an ADSL connection. They usually can’t be used in the middle of a chain of routers but only as the first device as the modem is the only input here which takes in a telephone line.
These don’t have an inbuilt modem and are usually more versatile than those with inbuilt modems. If you have an ADSL or fibre optic connection then you’ll need a separate modem to work with this. These can be connected in a chain or a mesh to cover a large area under Wi-Fi.
These usually come in pairs and use your house’s internal electrical wiring to transmit data. These have an advantage over using single Wi-Fi router as there is basically no decrement in the transfer speeds and you can access the internet anywhere you have a socket in your house. These can output in ethernet port or wireless depending on the model.
These just connect to your main Wi-Fi network and extend its range. Many wireless routers have this mode inbuilt under the Wireless Bridge menu. Although they seem a very inviting way to extend your Wi-Fi range without any wires, unless you use a dedicated mesh network router like Google Wifi, the network speed is cut to half from that at the receiving end.
These have a USB port to take input from a dongle or an inbuilt sim slot. Usually can connect a low number of devices at once but provide an easy way to have Wi-Fi on the move.And yes, the hotspot function on your phones also works as a network switch with a wireless access point.
What’s on the receiving end
Our PCs have one or two ethernet ports to connect to the network. They provide a robust connection and are faster than wireless over distance and provide much less latency. But if running a physical wire all the way from your router to your pc is not how you roll, then wireless is the way. Many high-end desktop motherboards come with inbuilt wireless receivers and can be used to connect to your wireless network. An external wireless receiver can also be used. Laptops have a separate card attached to their motherboards which with the antennas enables them to connect to the Wi-Fi. Mobiles have an inbuilt wireless chip but an ethernet adapter can also be used to connect via ethernet to exploit every drop of your fast network.
What happens when you press connect
When you press connect on the client device, it sends keys and its physical(MAC) address to and receives from the router for authentication and requests for an IP. After authentication the router assigns the client device an IP or network address on the local network and sends it back to the client and if everything’s hunky dory you’ll be connected to the network with internet access.
This was a really boring and quick overview of all that makes a router. Next up, Wired and Wireless Connection and Network Speed.