Computer Terminology Definitions
Gigabit Ethernet is a network technology capable of sending data through a network at the approximate rate of 1 Billion bits of data per second. Gigabit Ethernet is 10 times the speed of 100Mb/s networks or 1000 times the speed of a typical DSL connection.
VPN is an acronym for "Virtual Private Network". VPN technology uses VPN routers and the Internet to extend your company network to home users or other offices without having the expense of purchasing data circuits. Virtually anything you can do at your office with a network computer you can do at home over a VPN connected you your office, including accessing your files on a server, accessing email or having a VoIP phone extension in your living room.
A "T1" physically is a connection that comes into your office from the telephone company over copper wires. The wires carry digital information that can be used for either phone or data services. A Data T1 carries up to 1.544Mb/s of data. T1 service can be point-to-point, as you might when connecting two offices in the same city together or they may connect to other service providers that provide MPLS or Frame-Relay circuits that are typically used for long distance high-speed data connections.
MPLS is a acronym for Multi Protocol Label Switching. MPLS is used when companies want to connect numerous offices together and is fast replacing Frame-Relay. The chief advantage of MPLS is that once a site is connecting into an MPLS network all sites can instantly route directly to the new site. That differs from Frame-Relay technology in that each site in a Frame-Relay network requires a PVC (Private Virtual Circuit) to connect to any other site; Frame-Relay providers typically have a per PVC charge so MPLS is easier to implement and has a lower monthly recurring costs.
Frame-Relay is a packet switch network that is often used to connect offices together that are far apart. A company buys frame relay services from a provider for a fixed monthly fee based on the amount bandwidth being provided. A Data-T1 connection is used to connect the company to the Frame-Relay provider. Data is sent to the provider from the company and is sent through the provider's internal Frame-Network to connections throughout the country or the world.
Wireless Broadband and WiFi
Wireless Broadband is a network technology that sends data through the air from sending and receiving devices. Wireless can be used for connecting laptop computers in on office to the company network, connect a laptop to the Internet through a WiFi Hotspot or connect a laptop to a hotel's wireless network. Wireless networks can also connect outlaying buildings to main buildings or connect offices together within a city that are a few miles apart.
A Router is a device that moves packets between networks. You might use a router to move your packets from the company LAN to the Internet or from one location to another in the same company. A router can move packets from LAN-LAN or from LAN-WAN. A router can connect an Ethernet LAN to a T1, Frame-Relay, ATM, POTS, DSL, DS3 and other network types. Cisco, 3Com, and Extreme Networks are just a few examples of companies that make routers.
An Ethernet Switch is used to move data packets within a LAN. Switches are generally used to provide a lot of data ports for computers, printers, servers and other devices to connect to a company network. Switches can can have 8, 12, 16, 24 and 48 port models. Larger models are available for very large networks. Often times several switches can be stacked to form a single logical switch using a cascade cable. Switches move data from one port to another based on the MAC address of the computers that are communicating. Extreme Networks, Cisco and 3Com are all examples of companies that manufacture Ethernet Switches.
A Hub moves data packets with a LAN. A Hub receives a data packet from a computer on the network and broadcasts that packet to all of the devices on the network. The receiving computer identifies by its MAC address and responds to the originating computer. The broadcasting of the packets to all computers is inefficient and can cause collisions and network congestion. For this reason hubs are rarely used and switches are used instead.
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