Are you preparing to set up your own home Internet network, but you're not sure where to start? It will help to know some of the key components that you need to build a basic network.
Your modem is the device that connects your home to your Internet Service Provider. You can rent one from your ISP, or you can purchase one that you own yourself. The benefit of purchasing your own modem is that you can choose the one that you want for your home, and you won't pay a monthly rental fee.
A router allows you to connect multiple devices to your modem. It does this through a wired connection so that the router does all the work of managing devices. Think of it like a central hub that all the data flows through.
The Wi-Fi Access Point
Many routers also include built-in Wi-Fi access, and that may be all you need. However, some people want more advanced Wi-Fi access points and use a separate device just for this. A good use case is when someone wants to upgrade to a mesh Wi-Fi network, where multiple mesh routers are used to expand the network beyond the normal range of a single router.
The Network Switch
Have a place where you have a lot of wired Ethernet connections, such as behind a home entertainment center? You can get a network switch to plug all these connections into. Think of it as a data splitter, which takes a single Ethernet signal cable and connects multiple devices to it. The router does all the work of figuring out which direction the data needs to go. If two devices are communicating with each other on the same switch, that data will not go back to the main router and congest the network. Instead, the data intuitively travels just to the device it is going to.
The Ethernet Cable
You'll be running plenty of Ethernet cables to those components that you want to have a wired connection. A Cat5e cable will work best for basic home networks that are just using an Internet connection. If you have the hardware to support a faster connection, such as to a big server, you'll need something faster like Cat6 cables. However, those cables also require that the router and switches support Cat6 speeds as well for them to work.
Reach out to a professional in your area if you need help with your home networking installation.