Certified IT Support Professional Learning Resources Network Devices

Learning Resources

Network Devices

  • Gateway: device sitting at a network node for interfacing with another network that uses different protocols. Works on OSI layers 4 to 7.
  • Router: a specialized network device that determines the next network point to which it can forward a data packet towards the destination of the packet. Unlike a gateway, it cannot interface different protocols. Works on OSI layer 3.
  • Switch: a device that allocates traffic from one network segment to certain lines (intended destination(s)) which connect the segment to another network segment. So unlike a hub a switch splits the network traffic and sends it to different destinations rather than to all systems on the network. Works on OSI layer 2.
  • Bridge: a device that connects multiple network segments along the data link layer. Works on OSI layer 2.
  • Hub: connects multiple Ethernet segments together making them act as a single segment. When using a hub, every attached device shares the same broadcast domain and the same collision domain. Therefore, only one computer connected to the hub is able to transmit at a time. Depending on the network topology, the hub provides a basic level 1 OSI model connection among the network objects (workstations, servers, etc.). It provides bandwidth which is shared among all the objects, compared to switches, which provide a connection between individual nodes. Works on OSI layer 1.
  • Repeater: device to amplify or regenerate digital signals received while sending them from one part of a network into another. Works on OSI layer 1.

Some hybrid network devices:

  • Multilayer switch: a switch which, in addition to switching on OSI layer 2, provides functionality at higher protocol layers.
  • Protocol converter: a hardware device that converts between two different types of transmissions, such as asynchronous and synchronous transmissions.
  • Bridge router (brouter): a device that combines router and bridge functionality and therefore works on OSI layers 2 and 3.

Hardware or software components that typically sit on the connection point of different networks, e.g. between an internal network and an external network:

  • Proxy server: computer network service which allows clients to make indirect network connections to other network services
  • Firewall: a piece of hardware or software put on the network to prevent some communications forbidden by the network policy
  • Network address translator (NAT): network service provide as hardware or software that converts internal to external network addresses and vice versa

Other hardware for establishing networks or dial-up connections:

  • Multiplexer: device that combines several electrical signals into a single signal
  • Network interface controller a piece of computer hardware to allow the attached computer to communicate by network
  • Wireless network interface controller a piece of computer hardware to allow the attached computer to communicate by LAN
  • Modem: device that modulates an analog "carrier" signal (such as sound), to encode digital information, and that also demodulates such a carrier signal to decode the transmitted information, as a computer communicating with another computer over the telephone network
  • ISDN terminal adapter (TA): a specialized gateway for ISDN
  • Line driver: a device to increase transmission distance by amplifying the signal. Base-band networks only.


Networking Basics: Switches

  • Switches are used to connect multiple devices on the same network within a building or campus. For example, a switch can connect your computers, printers and servers, creating a network of shared resources. The switch, one aspect of your networking basics, would serve as a controller, allowing the various devices to share information and talk to each other. Through information sharing and resource allocation, switches save you money and increase productivity.

    There are two basic types of switches to choose from as part of your networking basics: managed and unmanaged.
    • An unmanaged switch works out of the box and does not allow you to make changes. Home-networking equipment typically offers unmanaged switches.
    • A managed switch allows you access to program it. This provides greater flexibility to your networking basics because the switch can be monitored and adjusted locally or remotely to give you control over network traffic, and who has access to your network.

Networking Basics: Routers

  • Routers, the second valuable component of your networking basics, are used to tie multiple networks together. For example, you would use a router to connect your networked computers to the Internet and thereby share an Internet connection among many users. The router will act as a dispatcher, choosing the best route for your information to travel so that you receive it quickly.

    Routers analyze the data being sent over a network, change how it is packaged, and send it to another network, or over a different type of network. They connect your business to the outside world, protect your information from security threats, and can even decide which computers get priority over others.

    Depending on your business and your networking plans, you can choose from routers that include different capabilities. These can include networking basics such as:
    • Firewall: Specialized software that examines incoming data and protects your business network against attacks
    • Virtual Private Network (VPN): A way to allow remote employees to safely access your network remotely
    • IP Phone network : Combine your company's computer and telephone network, using voice and conferencing technology, to simplify and unify your communications




A router is a communication device that is used to connect two logically and physically different networks, two LANs, two WANs and a LAN with WAN.  The main function of the router is to sorting and the distribution of the data packets to their destinations based on their IP addresses. Routers provides the connectivity between the enterprise businesses, ISPs and in the internet infrastructure, router is a main device.  Cisco routers are widely used in the world.  Every router has routing software, which is known as IOS.  Router operates at the network layer of the OSI model.  Router does not broadcast the data packets.


Like the router, a switch is an intelligent device that maps the IP address with the MAC address of the LAN card.  Unlike the hubs, a switch does not broadcast the data to all the computers, it sends the data packets only to the destined computer.  Switches are used in the LAN, MAN and WAN.  In an Ethernet network, computers are directly connected with the switch via twisted pair cables.  In a network, switches use the three methods to transmit the data i.e. store and forward, cut through and fragment free.


The central connecting device in a computer network is known as a hub.  There are two types of a hub i.e. active hub and passive hub.  Every computer is directly connected with the hub.  When data packets arrives at hub, it broadcast them to all the LAN cards in a network and the destined recipient picks them and all other computers discard the data packets.  Hub has five, eight, sixteen and more ports and one port is known as uplink port, which is used to connect with the next hub.


A modem is a communication device that is used to provide the connectivity with the internet.  Modem works in two ways i.e. modulation and demodulation. It coverts the digital data into the analog and analog to digital

LAN Cards

LAN cards or network adapters are the building blocks of a computer network. No computer can communicate without a properly installed and configured LAN card. Every LAN card is provided with a unique IP address, subnet mask, gateway and DNS (if applicable).  An UTP/STP cable connects a computer with the hub or switch.  Both ends of the cable have the RJ-45 connectors one is inserted into the LAN card and one in the hub/switch.  LAN cards are inserted into the expansion slots inside the computer.  Different LAN cards support different speed from 10/100 to 10/1000.

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