In order for the hosts on a network to communicate with each other, they must be connected somehow. This connectivity can be accomplished via wire (cabling) or wireless technology, which is becoming more popular in recent years. Many factors come into play when considering how to physically connect the hosts, sometimes called stations or nodes, in a local area network. For example, a site may have existing (legacy) cabling already installed which must be taken into consideration when expanding.
When installing a new network, always keep in mind that cabling is the least frequently upgraded (upwards of 10 to 20 years) network component. Future upgrade ability requires that cable with the best quality and throughput available be selected when installing a new network. If you merely meet todays requirements (or yesterdays), then you may find your upgrade options limited in the near future unless youre willing to replace that cable.
There are three primary families of cabling used in Local Area Network (LAN) environments. These are:
They are differentiated by physical characteristics, the electrical technologies used to transmit data, and by the maximum speed at which data can travel on the wire. In this chapter, well discuss the cable standards most often used with networks based on the two most popular LAN standards, Ethernet and IBM Token Ring. Ethernet is the most widely used technology for LANs when discussing physical network components like cabling and the various devices that connect to the network, unless we specifically mention Token Ring, were describing components that are typically part of an Ethernet network.
Networks can also be connected with wireless technology. Well review the latest standards in that area as well.
Finally, well wrap up by looking at some of the real-world details that are important when installing cabling and connecting workstations to a network.
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