In this article, we’ll be getting an insight into which hardware device connects your network to the internet.
After setting up your computer, the first thing you may want to do is get a stable internet connection so you can easily access your important emails, stream videos, and connect with the world.
For this purpose, you may rely on a Local Area Network and create a wireless network such as Wi-Fi for connecting your devices to the internet.
There are two types of LAN: wireless and wired. As the name suggests, wireless network doesn’t use wires and instead work using radio frequency technology.
Since it operates on radio signals, wireless LAN provides a network connection to a limited area.
On the contrary, wired LAN uses cables, network adapters, and fibers to connect to the internet.
Either way, you will need some hardware device like a switch, hub, or router for connecting everything.
Table of Contents
- Which hardware device connects your network to the internet?
Which hardware device connects your network to the internet?
Common types of internet service
Before we dive in to discuss which hardware device you need to purchase in order to connect to the internet, it is crucial to know which type of internet service you will be using.
The choice of internet service depends on your speed requirements, budget, and the Internet service providers in your area.
Here are the most common types of internet service you can choose from:
Fiber offers the latest technology when it comes to internet services. The speed and reliability offered by this type of connection are far superior to other connection types.
This technology works by sending pulses of light along thin fibers of glass or plastic to transmit data. You can expect download speeds as fast as 2 Gbps.
The only downside of this technology is its availability.
Expanding the fiber-optic infrastructure around the world has been a huge logistical challenge and there is still a lot to be done.
Fiber started about a decade ago as a fairly expensive service. Today, it is priced as any other connection type.
Considering that, it is the most cost-effective tech available nowadays.
Cable internet is still one of the most reliable and high-speed internet services available across the world. It makes use of cable TV to connect to the internet.
However, the service doesn’t necessarily require a cable TV to run. It uses a broadband connection instead.
The speed offered by cable internet mainly depends on the type of service plan you choose and the type and quality of your cable network.
You can create a wired cable data connection by connecting the coaxial cable to a modem. Furthermore, you can also create a wireless computer network by connecting the modem to a router.
Many people prefer using cable internet owing to its reliability and high-speed file transfer than DSL.
However, cable service is not available in all areas since it relies on a broadband connection. Also, it is being gradually replaced by fiber-optic.
Satellite internet is available almost worldwide, as it connects to the internet anywhere via satellite.
You can use this type of internet by placing the satellite dish on your rooftop or at an open place.
The satellite dish will receive signals from outer space and then transfer them to your home via any piece of hardware like a router or switch.
Although satellite Internet has greater availability than other internet services, it is not as faster and reliable as fiber, cable, or DSL internet.
Since it depends on satellite signals, tall buildings and bad weather can obstruct the connection.
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) uses a telephone line for its internet connection, however, it doesn’t need a telephone at your home for working.
It is way faster than dial-up and it’s available almost anywhere, unlike fiber or cable service which is only available at limited locations.
So, if you are looking for a cheaper internet service option, you may consider getting a DSL network.
However, with the advantages of affordability and availability, it works at a much slower speed than fiber or even cable internet as it is dependant on network traffic.
Today, mobile internet is one of the most commonly used internet services around the world. It provides wireless access to the internet using signals from cellular towers.
Since most people now own a mobile device, you can find a cellular network in the majority of the areas.
It typically works by taking signals from cellular towers and transmitting them to your computer or other devices.
A mobile hotspot is another way of accessing cellular data via a separate device, which transfers data from cellular towers to the connected internet device.
Types of hardware device that connects your network to the internet
For any of the above local area networks to work, you need hardware or equipment that connects the available network to the internet.
These hardware devices enable your computer to work efficiently and maintain a steady connection without issues.
So, whether you are setting up a home network or wireless LAN, it’s essential to learn which type of device will work the best for you.
Here are the four widely used networking devices you need to know before setting up a data connection:
It is primarily a box that uses signals from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and converts them into a stable data connection for your home network.
It belongs to the data layer of the OSI model and can establish a link across many networks.
A typical modem consists of two ports: LAN port and Service port. The LAN port connects to the WAN or Ethernet port of the device, whereas the service port connects to the internet service.
There are different kinds of modems depending upon the type of service that you are using. For example, if you use a DSL service, you will need a DSL modem to access the internet.
Other modems include fiber optic modems, cable modems, satellite modems, and more.
A network switch, also known as a bridging hub, works as a wired connection that brings plenty of devices together.
It belongs to the network layer of the OSI model, which uses MAC address or IP address to send information to the desired destination.
The receiver end then uses data packets to receive and process the data.
Switches are mostly used in environments where multiple computers are interconnected, like data centers and large offices.
It can maintain the flow of information across a wide range of networks and knows which message is intended for which computing unit.
Routers are networking devices that let you connect multiple machines to a single data connection. Hence, they create a powerful home area network.
However, some routers come with integrated switches that enable you to connect more than one wired device to a single Internet source.
Since many routers are wireless, it enables you to set up a wireless home network or WiFi network. In a wireless home network, a router connects all your devices that need a data connection. The router is further attached to a modem.
The good news is you don’t need to purchase this piece of hardware separately to connect to the internet.
Instead, you can attach your computer to a modem via an Ethernet cable. Moreover, some modems also include a router so you can set up a wireless network without additional cost.
If your computer doesn’t offer wireless connection functionality, you can install a wireless network adapter – generally a USB dongle – to provide network access to your computer.
Since a wireless router is a combination of a router and wireless access point, many people often get confused between these wireless devices. Let’s first understand the difference between the two.
A wireless access point refers to a hub that enables connection between wireless devices and wired networks via a jack.
It consists of an Ethernet cable attached to a router, which converts a wired network to a wireless one.
On the other hand, a router directs information from a local network to broadband.
You will usually find Wireless AP’s in public places where many wireless stations are combined to generate a large network.
The internet is a universal system of computer networks that lets you access and convey almost every piece of information with a single click on your computer.
Once you have purchased an internet connection from an ISP, you will need to buy a device to connect your network to the internet.
You can choose any of the above devices for this purpose, depending upon your speed needs, type of connection, and budget.
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