Introduction to Computer Network



In this article, we will be discussing about the basics of networking, each and everyone of us is connected to one or more networks.

The first thing that strikes our mind on hearing the word network is connectivity. A network facilitates linking of two or more computing devices together for the purpose of sharing data. All this sounds quite technical, so let’s just put it this way – A network binds a group of friends, colleagues, organizations or industries together such that they can easily communicate with each other over a medium. The medium for communication could either be wired or wireless.


Networks can be classified on the basis of the geographical area they span.

                SCALE                   TYPE             EXAMPLE
                Vicinity                     PAN     ( Personal Area Network )               Bluetooth
               Building                     LAN ( Local Area Network )           WIFI, internet
                  City                     MAN ( Metropolitan Area Network )               Cable, DSL
                Country                     WAN ( Wide Area Network )                  Large ISP


Network can be divided into two main categories:

  • Peer-to-peer: In peer-to-peer networking there is no hierarchy among the computer systems. All computers are considered to be equal to one another and are therefore known as peers. This type of network is used in small organizations or at home.
  • Client-Server: In client-server networking the power is centralized. Communication takes place between the server computer and the client computer. The server provides services to the clients. These are used in large organizations where more security is required.

There are some devices that form an essential part of any network. These are:

  • Network interface controller (NIC)

It is a computer hardware that provides a computer with the ability to access the transmission media. It responds to traffic addressed to a network address for either the NIC or the computer system as a whole.

Each NIC has a Medium Access Control (MAC) address. This address is unique and helps in resolving any address conflicts.

  • Repeaters and Hubs

A repeater receives a signal, removes the unwanted noise and regenerates it. The signal is then retransmitted with higher power so that it can travel greater distances without degradation.

A repeater having multiple ports is known as a hub. Repeaters take a small amount of time for regeneration of the signal. This delay in time can cause a propagation delay that affects network performance.

  • Bridges

A bridge is used to connect separate networks together. It maps addresses of the nodes of devices and allows only the required traffic to pass through the bridge. Bridges are also known as “store and forward” devices because they check the whole packet before  filtering or forwarding it.  It can split a network into separate collision domains by filtering and forwarding packets. This helps in traversing greater distances and more repeaters can be employed in the network.

  • Switches

A switch is used to connect multiple devices on the same network. It can connect your PCs, servers and printers together such that they can be shared in a single network. The switch serves as a controller as it allows various devices to share information and talk to each other.

  • Routers

Routers are used to connect different networks together. A router helps in choosing the best route for information to reach safely and quickly.

Routers perform the function of analyzing the data being sent over a network, changing the way it is packaged, and sending it to another network. It facilitates connection between you and the outside
world. A router can even protect your information from security threats.

  • Firewalls

A firewall is a very important network device. It is used for providing network security to a network. Firewalls are specifically configured to allow only recognized data to pass through and block all the unrecognized ones.


Communication languages used by the computer devices are known as network protocols. Different networks make use of different protocols depending on the need of the network. Some of the most commonly used protocols are TCP/IP, Telnet, SMTP, FTP, PPP etc.

Routing protocols include: Rip, EIGRP, OSPF, BGP etc.

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