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Network Fundamentals

By A. Awadhi

What is the Network?

A network consists of two or more computers that are linked in order to share resources (such as printers and CD-ROMs), exchange files, or allow electronic communications. The computers on a network may be linked through cables, telephone lines, radio waves, satellites, or infrared light beams.

Benefits of Network
Sharing resources. Centralizing administration. Control of security.

Types of Networks
The basic types of networks include: Local Area Network (LAN): LAN is a network that is confined to a relatively small area. It is generally limited to a geographic area such as a company school, or building. Wide Area Networks (WAN): WAN connect larger geographic areas, such as city to another, or the world. Dedicated transoceanic cabling or satellite uplinks may be used to connect this type of network.

What is a Protocol?
A protocol is a set of rules that governs the communications between computers on a network. These rules include guidelines that regulate the following characteristics of a network: Access method. Type of physical topologies. Types of cabling. Speed of data transfer.

Protocol Types
The most common protocols are: Ethernet LocalTalk Token Ring FDDI ATM

Network Layers
Scientists had divided the network to layers in order to simplify understanding and troubleshooting. There are two standard TC/IP & IOS which is more used.
Application layer
Application Layer 7

Presentation layer Session layer Transport layer Network layer Data link layer Physical Layer

Layer 6

Layer 5

Data are segmented. Segments are encapsulated into packets. Packets are encapsulated into frames. Frames are converted into bits. Networking media.

Layer 4

Layer 3

Layer 2

Layer 1

Network Devices
Network devices includes all computers, peripherals, interface cards and other equipment needed to perform data-processing and communications within the network.

Network devices can be divided in to two groups. User devices such as PCs, printers, scaners..etc, where the user will be in direct touch with them.

Network devices such as Hubs, switches, routers..etc, where user will communicate through them without having direct touch.

Network Devices
concentrate connections. In other words, they take a group of hosts and allow the network to see them as a single unit. Hubs use MAC Address to forward Data frame.
When host A wants to send data to host B, the Hub will broadcast the data to all hosts in the network. However, only destination host B will respond to source host A. Imagine if all hosts are sending data and hub broadcasting to all, what will happen? The network traffic will get jam and network will fail. A


Provides connections between LANs, they also perform a check on the data to determine whether it should cross the bridge or not. Therefore Bridge minimizes traffic jam. Bridges use MAC Address to forward Data frame. Bridge will build up a table which identify which host is on which port.

Segment 1

Segment 2


It is called also multiport bridge. It has same function of the bridge but with more ports.

Host A B

Port 1 2 3 4 5 6

MAC Address



They can regenerate signals, concentrate multiple connections, convert data transmission formats, and manage data transfers. They can also connect to a WAN, which allows them to connect LANs that are separated by great distances.

Network Cabling
The types of cables used in networks are: Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Cable: mostly used. Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) Cable: more expensive then UTP. Coaxial Cable: old type of cabling. Fiber Optic Cable: used for long distances. Wireless LANs

Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) Cable RJ-45 connector it is called also 10BaseT

Coaxial cable

BNC connector, it is called also 10Base2

Fiber optic cable Wireless LANs

What is a Topology?
The physical topology of a network refers to the configuration of cables, computers, and other peripherals. The following are types of physical topologies used in networks. Linear Bus, mostly used Coaxial cable. Star, used Twisted Pair and Fiber. Tree, used Twisted Pair, Coaxial or Fiber.

Linear Bus topology

Star topology

Tree topology

Data Frame
The data will be sent from a host to another in a form called Frame. Data frame contains many informations including the data its self, one of these are the source & destination address. Two types of address are available IP & MAC.

Data frame

B Destination


Media Access Card (MAC) address

It is called also Physical address, it consists of 48 bits expressed as 12 Hex digits divided in to two halfs, the first represents the manufacturer code and the second is serial no. MAC Address burned in to the RAM and therefore it cant be changed once written at factory. Example of MAC Address: 00602F3A07BC The first half in orange represents CISCO manufacturer and second half for particular device.

Internet Protocol (IP) address

It is called also logical address, it consists of 32 bits divided in to four parts Some of them are network address while others are host address. Example of IP Address:

Transmission of Data Frame

When a host send the data frame in the network it could be one of following cases.

Unicast In this case host A will send the data frame to destination host only Ex. host B.

Multicaste In this case host A will send the data frame to more then one destination host Ex. hosts B & C.


In this case host A will send the data frame to all hosts in the network.

If all hosts in the network send a Broadcast frame then what will happen ?? The amount of collision between data frames will increase and the traffic jam will take place. when the number of users on the network increases, the increased number of collisions can cause intolerably bad performance.

What is collision?
When two hosts send data frame in the same time, the two fames will collide.

The area were collision occurs called Collision Domain. Collision domains are the connected physical network segments where collisions can occur. Every time a collision happens on a network, all transmission stops for a period of time. The length of this period of time varies and is determined by each network device.

Layer 1 devices such as repeaters and hubs do not break up collision domains, Layer 2 and Layer 3 devices such as Bridges, Switches and routers do break up collision domains. Breaking up, or increasing the number of collision domains with Layer 2 and 3 devices is also known as segmentation.

Segment 1

Segment 2

Network segmentation