BSIT220: Week 3 Posting

There's various types of home networking equipment out there, and some of it has been in people's homes for longer than it should. Some of my friends still have Ethernet Hubs! The most popular speed for home switches seems to be Gigabit Ethernet. The term "Gigabit" refers to the speed at which information is transmitted from the source to the destination. There is also Fast Ethernet, which transmits at 100Mbps (megabits per second) and just plain Ethernet which transmits at 10Mbps. When connecting your laptop or desktop computer to your home router, care must be taken to correctly match Ethernet speeds among your equipment to prevent bottlenecks. Bottlenecks are what happens when part of the data path between your computer and the home router is slower than the rest of the path. This reduces the overall speed of the connection, as your connection will only be as fast as the slowest link. 

For example, let's say your Internet Service Provider (ISP) has sold you a link that is rated for 1Gbps bi-directional. This means that your home router can send and receive information to/from the internet at a maximum speed of 1 gigabit per second. You purchase a Gigabit Ethernet network card for your desktop computer, so your desktop can also communicate at 1Gbps speed. However, your friend gifts you a spare Fast Ethernet switch that he no longer needs, and you connect it in between your home router and your desktop. Now your Desktop will communicate with that switch at 100Mbps (the fastest speed the switch can handle), and the switch will communicate with the home router at 100Mbps (again the fastest speed the switch can handle. So although your desktop and home router are capable of communicating at a faster speed, your overall connection speed will be 100Mbps, and you will be paying for a capability that you are not using. This condition is often referred to as a "network bottleneck". To fix this issue, we can simply replace the Fast Ethernet switch with a Gigabit Ethernet switch, or we can connect the desktop directly to the home router, creating a network layout (referred to as a "topology") where all connected devices communicate at the same speed and maximize their use of the available connection speed.