A Beginners Guide – Interconnection devices

The most common interconnection devices used in networks are

  • Repeaters
  • Bridges
  • Hubs
  • Wireless access points
  • Switch
  • Routers

Repeater

A repeater is a device that gets a signal and is then retransmitted at a higher level or power to another area.  A repeater can be used to extend the distance of a wireless signal.  It can be used to transmit radio signals, WLAN signals or even TV signals over vast distances.

Bridges

A network bridge connects multiple network segments together at the data link layer; for example by connecting a local area network to another network merging them to become one.  Bridges can analyse incoming data packets to determine if the bridge is able to send the packet to another segment.

Hubs

A network hub is  used to connect multiple Ethernet devices together, making them act as a single network.  Hubs do not manage any of the traffic that comes through them and any packet entering any port is broadcast out on all other ports.  Since every packet is being sent out through all other ports, there are a lot of collisions in the packets making it a slow and unreliable network.

Wireless Access point

Wireless access points are specially configured repeaters on a network that do not already have wireless access.  The Wireless Access Point plugs into the Ethernet port on a normal router to offer wireless access to that network.  Wireless Access points act as a central transmitter and receiver of WLAN radio signals.

Switches

The switch within a network, filters and forwards packets of data across the network.  Unlike the standard hub which simply replicates what it receives on one port to all the other ports, a switching hub keeps a record of the MAC addresses of the devices attached to it.  This enables it to send data only to the port that it is destined for, thus improving network performance.

Router

A Router is a physical device that joins multiple wired or wireless networks together.  The Router operates at the network layer of the OSI Model.  The most commonly used router in the home is more often the Internet Protocol wired or wireless router.  A router uses a routing table to decide where the packet should be sent, if the router can’t find the preferred address then it will look down the routing table and decide which the next best address to send it to is. If you are going to be connecting more than one computer to a broadband connection then you will need a router.  A broadband modem is used to connect just one computer to the broadband connection but if you would like to add multiple devices to the internet, a router offers more space to add more devices.

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