Networking term is widely used for connection between living and non living things. We know about social networking of people across the globe using sites such as face book, twitter, LinkedIn, Google etc. In this tutorial we will see networking with respect to non living intelligent devices for means of exchanging data and voice as well as for monitoring and control of various things.
Broadly networking is divided into two categories wired and wireless with respect to the medium the information is carried by. With respect to the distance coverage, it is divided into Local Area Networks, Metropolitan Area Networks and Wide Area Networks.
Based on the latency need, there are two ways data will be transported from source node to the destination node viz. circuit switching and packet switching. Circuit switching is connection oriended where in connection need to establish before the data transmission begins. In Packet switching connection need not required to be established before the data transmission. The packet flows through various networking devices such as routers/switches etc. based on source and destination addresses embedded in the packet. TCP protocol is used for connection oriented circuit while UDP is used for connectionless circuit. For more refer our page on Circuit Switching vs Packet switching.
In the wired networks connection between devices is made with coaxial cable, optical fiber cable or twisted pair. Connection between antenna and TV set is done with the coaxial cable. Twisted pair cable is used in old telephone systems. Optical fiber cable is used for high bandwidth data transmission between two countries across the sea.
Wireless networks cover various technologies which include microwave link, Satellite-VSAT network, Wireless LAN, WPAN and cellular networks. Wireless PAN include Zigbee, Bluetooth, Z-wave, Infrared etc. Cellular networking technologies include GSM, CDMA, HSPA, LTE, LTE-a, TD-SCDMA and so on.
All the wired and wireless technologies are divided into LAN and WAN as mentioned. A network is any interconnection between two or more terminals which wants to communicate. Each of these terminals or stations is referred as node in the communication network. LAN covers smaller distance between the nodes. The LAN has been evolved at various speeds from 10 Mbps to 1Gbps. Coaxial; fiber cable is used to connect devices in the LAN at 10 Mbps, 100Mbps and 1Gbps. Wireless LAN has been developed to provide wireless access between the devices in smaller area. There are various standards such as 802.11a, 11b, 11g, 11n, 11ac, 11ad developed in this technology for different data rate and coverage need. OFDM has been introduced to take care of high data rate need along with MIMO in WLAN. WLAN has become more popular as a technlogy for local area networking in the house and office premises. With the latest advancements one can achieve data rate in the order of Gbps with 11ac/11ad versions.
Bluetooth, zigbee and Z-wave are Wireless Personal Area Network technologies targeted for low data rate and smaller coverage need. Bluetooth provides data rate of 1Mbps to 2Mbps and operates in 2.4GHz band .Bluetooth has 79 channels with 1MHz each. Zigbee has different versions based on physical layer. Zigbee supports data rate upto 250Kbps.Z-wave supports 9.6 kbps to 40 kbps with GFSK as modulation technique.
Wide Area Networking i.e. WAN, as the name suggests used for interconnection between nodes over larger area. Initially microwave link was used for transmission in a line of sight. Later repeaters were used in between to increase usage in non line of sight mode of communication. Satellite was used as medium of communication in hilly terrain regions between VSATs using C, Ku or K frequency bands. Satellite covers larger area of the earth and hence star topology has become popular to provide connectivity between two VSATs via satellite placed at 36000Km height.
WAN also include cellular technologies. These technologies include GSM, UMTS (WCDMA), LTE, LTE-a etc. The cellular technologies cover metropolitan cities and mainly targeted for mobile services to the user either on tablet or desktop or laptop and so on.
GSM is in use as one of the niche technology in cellular arena. It is FTDMA based access technology. One of the best networking technology for voice communication. The data communication using TCP/IP protocols is supported by GPRS/EGPRS version. CDMA has been used as one of the secured communication technology as the information is transmitted at below the noise level. The information is retrieved using code at the other end.
LTE and LTE-Advanced have been recently introduced and is the technology of tomorrow. It provides very high speed data communication in both uplink and downlink directions.LTE-Advanced theoretically provides data rate of 1Gbps in the downlink and 500Mbps in the uplink with the concept called carrier aggregation.
Almost all the technologies mentioned above falls under OSI layer and will mostly differ at physical layer(layer-1) and MAC layer(layer-2). It is advisable to refer our article on Basics of OSI and TCP-IP Layers to gain control over networking.
The subject of topic is very wast and hence we have covered very basic points about networking in this tutorial, To get depth knowledge, kindly refer links provided on left panel.