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What is Networking?

Networking is the technology referring to the interconnection of computers and other network-capable electronic devices in your home for them to communicate with each other. One computer can exchange files such as documents and pictures with another computer or you can use it to access the Internet, print documents in a printer, accept images from a scanner and exchange photos and videos with a digital camera. Today, even home appliances such as television sets, refrigerators and security systems can be monitored and controlled using a computer. Network connectivity can either be through wired or wireless means.

What is a Wired Network?

In a wired network, the computers and other network devices are connected physically by wires, which can be “Cat-5” or “Cat-6” (category 5 or 6) cables with “RJ-45” plug connectors at the ends. Together, they make up what is called a “Local Area Network” or a LAN. If only two computers need to be interconnected, a simple “crossover” LAN cable is required. If more than two network devices are to be interconnected, a hub or a router is needed to properly manage the data exchange between them. If you have a broadband ADSL Internet connection, it is most likely that the cable modem has a built-in router. A wired home network is an ideal choice if your network devices are not far from each other and if you will be moving around large amounts of data such as video streaming and Internet radio. However, if the devices are far apart from one another, a wireless type of network can be a better choice.

What is a Wireless Network?

A “Wireless Local Area Network” or WLAN, as the name implies, is a type of network wherein the devices are connected wirelessly through radio signals. There are several wireless networking standards in use but the most popular of which is 802.11(a/b/g/n), more commonly known as Wi-Fi. A wireless router called an “Access Point” or AP device is where devices such as computers and other Wi-Fi-capable devices connect to to be able to exchange data. The advantage of a wireless network over a wired one is obvious, you can move around your device with ease in any corner of your home and still remain connected.

Below is a list of components you may need to set up your home wireless network:

Wireless router or Access Point – the central router that manages data flow between devices that are connected through radio signals.

Wireless modem – an ADSL cable modem with a built-in wireless router.

Wireless USB adaptor – a Wi-Fi-equipped USB device that can be connected to your computer or laptop if they have no built-in Wi-Fi.

Wireless PCI card – a wireless interface card that can be installed in a desktop computer.

Wireless PCMCIA card – a wireless interface card that sits in the PCMCIA slot of laptops or notebooks.

Wireless web cam – a wireless computer camera that can be used for video chatting or surveillance purposes.

Wireless gaming adaptor – wireless gadgets available for Xbox, PlayStation and Wii gaming consoles.

Wireless media player – connects to your TV or Hi-Fi audio device for playback of Multimedia content.

Wireless printer – a printer that can be accessed by computers wirelessly.