Network equipment is used to combine, split, switch, boost, or direct packets of information along a computer or telecommunications network. This product area includes hubs, switches, routers, bridges, gateways, multiplexers, transceivers and firewalls. In addition to device type, network equipment is defined by protocol (e.g., Ethernet) and port or interface type (e.g., T1). These concepts are described below.
How Network Equipment Works
Networking equipment interconnects devices so that data can be shared between them. The layout or topology of these connected devices describes the network’s design or structure. Common topologies for computer networks include bus, ring, star, tree, and mesh. Hybrid topologies are also used.
- Hubs provide a central location for attaching wires to workstations. There are two types: passive and active.
- Switches connect devices to host computers and allow large numbers of these devices to share a limited number of ports.
- Routers are protocol-dependent devices that connect sub-networks or divide a very large network into smaller sub-networks.
- Repeaters use regeneration and retiming to ensure that signals are transmitted clearly through all network segments.
- Bridges are used to interconnect local or remote networks. They centralize network administration.
- Gateways can interconnect networks with different, incompatible communications protocols.
- Multiplexers combine multiple signal inputs into one output.
- Transceivers connect nodes and send and receive signals. They are sometimes called medium access units (MAU).
- Firewalls safeguard a network against unauthorized access.