Network Hardware 101: Everything you need to know

Network Hardware 101: Everything you need to know

The term network device or network equipment describes a variety of electronic devices used in networking. Network devices are commonly used in computer networks to transmit and receive data quickly and securely between computers, fax machines, printers, etc. The devices may be inter- or intranet-based. Devices like the RJ45 connector and NIC cards are installed on the device, while others are part of the network, including switches, routers, etc. The devices handle digital or electrical connections very efficiently to fulfill their unique functions. This article provides an overview of network devices.

Types of Network Devices

A computer network uses different types of network devices;some of these include:

  • Modem
  • Access Point
  • Network Hub
  • Switch
  • Bridge
  • Router


Transmission of digital signals over analog telephone lines is done by modems (modulators-demodulators). Hence, the modem converts digital signals into analog signals at different frequencies that are transmitted to another modem at the receiving site. Receiving modems perform reverse transformations and provide a digital output to a linked device, usually a computer. RS-232 is an industry-standard interface that is usually used to transfer digital data between the modem and the host. Many cable operators and phone companies offer DSL services, and most use modems as end terminals for identifying and recognizing individual home and personal users. They function both at the physical and data link layers.

This is the primary device that you need in order to connect to the internet. If you want your internet connection to be reliable and fast, make sure to choose a great modem. You must also invest in a good internet service provider. For instance, Cox internet is not just reliable but offers affordable plans every now and then. Do your research so that you never go wrong with either of these.

Access Point

The term access point or (AP) can technically refer to either a wireless or wired connection, but most commonly, it refers to a wireless device. The Access Point operates at the second OSI layer, the Data Link layer. It can either act as a bridge to connect wired networks to wireless devices or as a router, passing data from one point to the next one.

Wireless access points (WAPs) are the devices that use a transmitter and receiver for forming a wireless LAN (WLAN). Typically, access points consist of a separate network device with an antenna, adapter, and transmitter. They also have several ports, which allow you to expand the network to support additional clients. APs connect WLANs and wired Ethernet LANs in the wireless infrastructure network mode. In order to provide full coverage, one or more access points may be needed, depending on the size of the network. Additional Access Points are used to expand the wireless network’s range and offer access to more wireless clients. There is a maximum range to which an AP can transmit a signal and still keep up with the data rate. Based on wireless standards, obstacles, and environmental conditions between the client and the access point, the actual distance varies. High-end access points have powerful antennas that allow them to extend the range of the wireless signal.

In addition to supplying many ports, APs can also provide DHCP service and firewall capabilities to increase the network’s capacity. Therefore, we have APs that act as switches, DHCP servers, routers, and firewalls.


Computer networks are connected through hubs. Hubs also act as repeaters as they amplify deteriorating signals transmitted over long distances over connected cables. Hubs are known to be the most simplified network-connecting devices since they connect components that use the same procedures.

If a hub’s settings have been configured for data formatting, it can be used with both analog and digital data. The hub, for example, must transmit digital data as packets if it is incoming; otherwise, it must transmit analog data via signals.

There is no packet filtering or addressing done by hubs; they just forward‘data packets’ to all devices that are connected.


The role of switches is usually more intelligent than that of hubs. In a network, switches are used to improve performance. They maintain routing information regarding nodes within an internal network, as well as allowing networks to systems, including hubs or routers. Switches connect LANs together. In general, switches can determine the appropriate destination based on the hardware address of arriving packets.

The virtual circuit capability of switches makes them more effective than routers or hubs. By having switches, network security is improved as virtual circuits can be tough to examine with network monitors. Switches combine some of the finest features of hubs and routers. Switches can be used at either the Network layers of the OSI model or the Data Link. Multilayer switches are switches that can act as both switches and routers, so that they can work at both layers. Multilayer switches support similar routing procedures as routers and are high-performance devices.


In an ocean of interlocked networking devices using different network topologies, routers map a path for packets to reach their destinations. Routers are intelligent devices that stockdata about connected networks. Access control lists (ACLs) can be used with most routers to operate as a packet-filtering firewall. Routers also work in conjunction with channel service units (CSU) and data service units (DSU) to convert LAN frames into WAN frames. Since WANS  and LANs operate on different protocols, this is essential. Such routers are called border routers. A LAN bridge connects to a WAN, and it operates at the edge of your network.

Routers can also be used to split a network into2 or more subnetworks. The routers can also be interconnected internally to create independent zones. To establish communication, the routers maintain a table of destinations and local connections.


Bridges join2 or more segments or hosts of a network. A bridge’s primary role in network architecture is to stock and transfer frames between segments or sections that the bridge connects. The frames are transferred by using MAC addresses. The bridge can determine whether data should be forwarded or blocked based on the MAC address of each device linked to each section. In addition to connecting two physical LANs, bridges can also be used to create a logical LAN.

Hubs and bridges are almost the same in multiple ways. They join LAN components using similar protocols. Data packets, or frames, are filtered by bridges for addresses before being forwarded. Bridges do not modify the incoming data packets’ content or format as it screens the packets. A dynamic bridge table filters and sends ahead frames using the bridge on the network.