Building a Home Network - Media Introduction

In order to create a LAN, the computers must have a way to be connected together. There are four primary mediums that are able to accomplish this. The first two are the most common and are very similar to common home wire types - telephone wire and television coaxial cable. The other two are highly specialized and considerably more expensive. The first being Fiber Optic, which allows for high speed and long distance data transmission and is principally found in larger LANs. The last is not cable at all, but infrared light or radio waves. These are referred to as wireless and are typically found only in niche applications where stringing cable is impossible or impractical (PC Parts, Inc.).

Because budget is a primary consideration, we will avoid the higher cost, more specialized media types and determine which of the two wire types is more appropriate for our application. According to PC Parts Inc., twisted Pair, or telephone type wire, is the most common media; coaxial is less common. A call to a local electronics company, Graybar, which carries a large supply of network media and connectors, yielded information on media costs. From Graybar, coaxial and twisted pair come in a minimum of one thousand-foot spools. This is more than enough to connect an entire household. The cost for a spool of Category Five twisted pair cabling is seventy-three dollars; RG58 coaxial is one hundred and four dollars. Both Category Five and RG58 are computer network grade cable types.

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By Robert Corfman - 06/13/98