Building a Home Network - Protocol

Prior to settling on our media type, we have to consider the language the network will speak, or the protocol, and the order the computers will be connected, or the network topology. The two are loosely related together, with certain topologies commonly associated with certain protocols.

There are currently three primary network protocols. These are Ethernet, Token Ring, and FDDI (Fiber distributed data interface). As discussed earlier, Fiber is considerably more expensive and usually used on very large networks, in our home network scenario, we will not consider FDDI as an option. The two remaining choices are Token Ring and Ethernet. There is much information available to describe these two protocol standards. Goldman provides an in-depth explanation of their principals. To summarize, "discussions as to the relative merits of Token Ring or Ethernet network architectures were conducted at one time with all the fervor of a religious war. There seems to be less argument now, as estimates put the ratio of Ethernet to Token Ring networks at about 3 to 1" (Goldman, 248).

Not one to argue with an open market, I will standardize on Ethernet as our network protocol. The issue of media is also fairly straightforward. Coaxial cable is used with a bus topology, where all the computers are connected one to another in a straight line. One problem with bus technology is that if there is a bad connection with one of the computers, the entire network fails.

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By Robert Corfman - 06/13/98