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Network. In general, is a connected system of objects or people.

Computer network. A collection of computers and other hardware devices that are connected together to
share hardware, software, and data, as well as to communicate electronically with one another.


Internet. It is the largest computer network in the world.

Telephone Service. The original telephone network, sometimes called the plain old telephone service
(POTS), was one of the first communications networks.
Mobile phone. A phone, such as a cellular or satellite phone, that uses a wireless network.
Cellular phone. A mobile phone that communicates via a cellular network; also called a cell phone.
Dual-mode phone. A mobile phone that can be used with more than one communications network,
such as with both a cellular and a Wi-Fi network.
Satellite phone. A mobile phone that communicates via satellite technology.
Global positioning system (GPS). A system that uses satellites and a receiver to determine the exact
geographic location of the receiver.
Monitoring systems. It uses networking technology to determine the current location or status of an object.
Multimedia networking device. (such as a digital media receiver or digital media streamer) can be used to
connect a conventional television to your home network to deliver content from your networked devices or
the Internet to that television.
Videoconferencing. The use of computers, video cameras, microphones, and networking technologies to
conduct face-to-face meetings over a network.
Telecommuting. The use of computers and networking technology to enable an individual to work from a
remote location.
Telemedicine. The use of networking technology to provide medical information and services.
Telesurgery. A form of robot-assisted surgery in which the doctors physical location is different from the
patients and robots physical location; the doctor controls the robot remotely over the Internet or another


Wired network. A network in which computers and other devices are connected to the network via physical
Wireless network. A network in which computers and other devices are connected to the network without
physical cables; data is typically sent via radio waves.
Network Topologies. The physical topology of a computer network indicates how the devices in the
network are arranged. Three of the most common physical topologies are star, bus, and mesh.
Star network. A network that uses a host device connected directly to several other devices.
Bus network. A network consisting of a central cable to which all network devices are attached.
Mesh network. A network in which there are multiple connections among the devices on the
network so that messages can take any of several possible paths.
Network Architectures. Networks also vary by their architecture; that is, the way they are designed to
communicate. The two most common network architectures are client-server and peer-to-peer (P2P).
Client-server networks. Include both clients (computers and other devices on the network that
request and utilize network resources) and servers (computers that are dedicated to processing
client requests).
Peer-to-peer (P2P) network. A central server is not used. Instead, all the computers on the network
work at the same functional level, and users have direct access to the computers and other devices
attached to the network
Network Size and Coverage Area. One additional way networks are classified is by the size of their coverage
area. This also impacts the types of users the network is designed to service. The most common categories
of networks are discussed next; these networks can use both wired and wireless connections.
Personal area network (PAN). A network that connects two or more of an individuals personal
devices when they are located close together.
Local area network (LAN). A network that connects devices located in a small geographical area,
such as within a building.
Metropolitan area network (MAN). A network designed to service a metropolitan area.
Wide area network (WAN). A network that connects devices located in a large geographical area.
Intranet. A private network that is set up similar to the Internet and is accessed via a Web browser.
Extranet. An intranet that is at least partially accessible to authorized outsiders.
Virtual private network (VPN). A private, secure path over the Internet that provides authorized
users a secure means of accessing a private network via the Internet.


Bandwidth. Refers to the amount of data that can be transferred (such as over a certain type of networking
medium) in a given time period.
Analog vs. Digital Signals. Digital signal is type of signal where the data is represented by 0s and 1s. Analog
signal is a type of signal where the data is represented by continuous waves.
Transmission Type and Timing. Networking media can also use either serial transmission or parallel
transmission. With serial transmission, data is sent one bit at a time, one after the other along a single path.
When parallel transmission is used, the message is sent at least one byte at a time, with each bit in the byte
taking a separate path.
Under Serial Transmission.
Synchronous transmission. Data is organized into groups or blocks of data, which are transferred at
regular, specified intervals.
Asynchronous transmission. Data is sent when it is ready to be sent, without being synchronized.
Isochronous transmission. Data is sent at the same time as other related data to support certain
types of real-time applications that require the different types of data to be delivered at the proper
speed for that application.
Another distinction between types of transmissions is the direction in which transmitted data can move
Simplex transmission. Data travels in a single direction only (like a doorbell). Simplex transmission is
relatively uncommon in data transmissions.
Half-duplex transmission. Data can travel in either direction, but only in one direction at a time (like a
walkie-talkie where only one person can talk at a time).
Full-duplex transmission. Data can move in both directions at the same time (like a telephone).
Delivery Method. When data needs to travel across a large network (such as a WAN), typically one of three
methods is used.
Circuit switching. A dedicated path over a network is established between the sender and receiver
and all data follows that path from the sender to the receiver.
Packet switching. With packet switching, messages are separated into small units called packets.
Broadcasting. In which data is sent out (typically in packets) to all nodes on a network and is
retrieved only by the intended recipient.

Wired Networking Media. The most common types of wired networking media are twisted-pair, coaxial, and
fiber-optic cable.
Twisted-pair cable. A networking cable consisting of wire strands twisted in sets of two and bound
into a cable.
Coaxial cable. A networking cable consisting of a center wire inside a grounded, cylindrical shield,
capable of sending data at high speeds.
Fiber-optic cable. A networking cable that utilizes hundreds of thin transparent fibers over which
lasers transmit data as light.
Wireless Networking Media. Wireless networks usually use radio signals to send data through the airwaves.
The Electromagnetic and Wireless Spectrums.
Cellular radio. A form of broadcast radio designed for use with cellular telephones that broadcasts
using antennas located inside honeycomb-shaped cells.
Microwave and Satellite Transmissions.
- Microwave station. An earth-based device that sends and receives high-frequency, high-speed
radio signals.
- Communications satellite. An earth-orbiting device that relays communications signals over long
- Infrared (IR) transmissions. A wireless networking medium that sends data as infrared light rays


Protocol. It is a set of rules to be followed in a specific situation; in networking, for instance, there are
communications protocols that determine how devices on a network communicate.
TCP/IP. A networking protocol that uses packet switching to facilitate the transmission of messages; the
protocol used with the Internet.
Ethernet (802.3). A widely used wired LAN networking standard.
Phoneline, Powerline,, and Broadband over Powerline (BPL). Two alternatives to the Ethernet
standard for wired home networks are the Phoneline and Powerline standards. Phoneline (also called the
HomePNA standard) allows computers to be networked through ordinary telephone wiring and telephone
jacks, as well as over existing home coaxial cable wiring. The Powerline (also called HomePlug) standard
allows computers to be networked over existing power lines using conventional electrical outlets. The
standard is a new standard designed as a unified worldwide standard for creating home networks over any
existing home wiringphone lines, power lines, and coaxial cable. BPL service is typically available through
the local power company and has great potential for delivering broadband Internet to any home or business
that has access to electricity, but momentum for BPL appears to be slowing
Wi-Fi (802.11). A widely used networking standard for medium-range wireless networks.
WiGig (802.11ad). An emerging fast, short-range wireless networking standard expected to be used
for transferring large amounts of data from one device to another.
WiMAX (802.16). A wireless networking standard that is faster and has a greater range than Wi-Fi.
Bluetooth, Ultra Wideband (UWB), and Other Short-Range Wireless Standards
Bluetooth. A networking standard for very short-range wireless connections; the devices are
automatically connected once they get within the allowable range.
Wireless USB. A wireless version of USB designed to connect peripheral devices.
Wi-Fi Direct. A standard for connecting Wi-Fi devices directly, without using a router or an access
Ultra Wideband (UWB). A networking standard for very short-range wireless connections among
multimedia devices.
WirelessHD (WiHD). A wireless networking standard designed for very fast transfers between home
electronic devices.
TransferJet. A networking standard for very short-range wireless connections between devices;
devices need to touch in order to communicate.


Network adapter. A network interface, such as an expansion card or external network adapter.
Network interface card (NIC). An expansion card through which a computer can connect to a network.
Modem. A device that enables a computer to communicate over analog networking media, such as to
connect that computer to the Internet via telephone lines.
Switches, Routers, and Other Hardware for Connecting Devices and Networks.
Switch. A device used to connect multiple devices on a single (typically wired) network; forwards
packets to only the intended recipient.
Router. A device that connects multiple networks together; routes packets to their next location in
order to efficiently reach their destination.
Wireless access point. A device on a wireless network that connects wireless devices to that
Wireless router. A router with a built-in wireless access point; most often used to connect wireless
devices to a network and an Internet connection and often contains a built-in switch.
Bridge. A device used to bridge or connect two LANs; most often used to connect wired devices
wirelessly to a network.
Other Networking Hardware.
Repeater. A device on a network that amplifies signals.
Range extender. A repeater for a wireless network.
Antenna. A device used for receiving or sending radio signals; often used to increase the range of a