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Modems, routers, switches and hubs.

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Feb 28, 2002
Fargo, ND area
Home networking basics have seem to have confused a few in this forum. So I'll attempt to explain some important details that some threads haven't gotten right.
1: DSL is dedicated bandwidth to the Central Office.
2: Cable is shared among others in your neighborhood, the amount of people can range from hundreds to thousands. But unless everyone streaming video at once you should get the bandwidth you're paying for.
3: Cable and DSL modems in the most simple terms, are signal converters.
4: Routers act as an wide area and local area network proxy server. It has an IP address either dynamically(most home connections) or statically(mostly businesses). All computers attached to them have numbers assigned in this format
XXX.XXX.XXX.001, XXX.XXX.XXX.002 etc. Only the router has a visible address, that amounts to "firewall" of sorts. It isn't hard to break through however. Most routers use internal switches(the value of which is explained later).
5: Switches allow two or more computers to connect to a WAN and/or LAN. They are intelligent hubs; they sense speeds and adjust speeds to each NetworkInterface(NICs for example), they also reroute each packet to only the destination intended, they regulate the packet stream to avoid collisions that result in data loss, corruption and delays for error correction. They can be connected directly to DSL/Cable/Phone modems. Each connected broadband connection must be assigned its own address if no router exists between computers and modem. They do not share available bandwidth as they make efficient use of available bandwidth.
6: Hubs also allow two or more computers to connect to a WAN and/or LAN. Some sense speeds and adjust for them. All data from the internet or from other computers on the LAN is directed to all NetworkInterfaces(most used device for USB networks). All bandwidth is shared among the connected devices. No data integrity protection built-in to most hubs. All connected computers must have its own IP address.
7: Firewalls can be breached, both hardware and software firewalls are an absolute requirement for all "always on" internet connected computers, do not have more than one software firewall installed as sometimes conflict.