MadSci Network: Computer Science

Re: what is home-networking and how does it works?

Date: Sun Jul 27 19:22:12 2003
Posted By: Ben Saitz, Sr. Director, Operations
Area of science: Computer Science
ID: 1057678841.Cs

Hi - good question.

A network is a network is a network.  All networks transmit data, across 
a network.  They transmit data using "protocols" - there are several 
different ones, the one most often used for internet networks is TCP/IP.  
TCP/IP allows each station in a network to transmit and receive data.  
these networks can be assembled over wires or wirelessly.  but using 
wires can be over "standard" network wires (known as CAT5), or using some 
nifty technlogy, over phone lines, power lines, maybe one day over plain 
household string ;-)

anyway, each device on a TCP/IP network has its own IP address, so it can 
be communicated to uniquely.  think of it like a phone line, everyone has 
their own number, otherwise it would be chaos - same thing for networks.

if each device in a house had its own address, you could send it commands 
or access it directly, without confusion as to which device you'd be 
controlling.  every lamp, fridge, or garage door opener would have its 
own IP address.

a few add-ons:
1) linksys has a nice home network primer :
2)  - very good read.
3) IPv4 vs. IPv6.  currently, we use IPv4... but we will run out of 
unique IP addresses down the road.  so some smart folks have created 
IPv6 - which gives us enough IP addresses for every device we could ever 
want to hook to the network.

Hope this helps, feel free to get in touch or follow-up.

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