What Kind of Network is Right for Me?

Now that you've decided to start a network, it's time to decide what kind of network best suits your networking needs.

Basically, there are two kinds of networks, wired and wireless. The most basic difference is that wired networks communicate through data cables, while wireless networks communicate through radio signals.

Wired networks have been around for decades. By far the most common wired networking technology found today is known as Ethernet. The data cables, known as Ethernet network cables or Cat 5 cables, connect the computers and other devices that make up the networks.

Wireless networks are relatively new. They don't use cables for connections; instead, they use radio waves, like cordless phones.
Why choose a wireless network?

Freedom—work anywhere.
Quick, effortless installation.
No cables to buy.
Save cabling time.
Easy to expand.

Wireless networks are rapidly becoming more popular and coming down in price. Since they don't require cables, you can use the devices anywhere in an office or home, even out on the patio. There's no need to roll out an Ethernet network cable to each room of a house; you can network anywhere—without wires. Outside of the home, wireless networking is available in hotspots at coffee shops, businesses, airports—great when you're on the road and need to get some work done. For convenience, wireless networking is the answer.

Why choose a wired network?

Lower cost.
Faster speed—up to 1000Mbps.
Longer possible range.

Wired networks have been around for years. They use the most affordable products and provide the fastest speeds of transmission. The distance between devices, such as computers, on a network is also much less restricted in wired networking—up to 300 feet with Cat 5 Ethernet cables or 1,800 feet using fiber optics. When you need to move large amounts of data at high speeds, such as professional-quality multimedia, wired networking is the most efficient way to do it.