• Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint
Share this Page URL

Chapter 3. Choosing the Best Network Typ... > Wired Networks: Making the Right Con...

Wired Networks: Making the Right Connections

A wired network uses cables to make the connections between the devices on the network. Each of the several different types of wired networks uses very specific types of network adapters, cables, switches, and so on to complete those connections.


The cables and other components used for different types of wired networking are not interchangeable. You cannot substitute different types of components because they simply will not work.

The sections that follow examine the most common types of wired home networks. These sections will not cover direct PC-to-PC connections using serial cables, parallel cables, USB cables, or IEEE-1394 (FireWire) cables, because these options are very limited and do not provide practical networking capabilities.

Ethernet Networks

Ethernet networks are far and away the most common type of networking both in the home and in the office. As Figure 3-1 illustrated earlier, an Ethernet network connects the PCs (or other devices such as printers and media hubs) by way of a central hub or switch. Ethernet networks typically provide the highest performance compared to any other type of home networking.

To complete your Ethernet network, you will need the following items:

  • An Ethernet network adapter in each PC— This might be built in, or it might be a Linksys LNE100TX EtherFast 10/100 LAN Card for a desktop system, a Linksys PCM100 EtherFast 10/100 Integrated PC Card for a laptop, or a Linksys USB200M EtherFast USB 2.0 10/100 Network Adapter that plugs into a USB port on either a desktop or laptop system. Be sure to check each PC to see if it has a built-in Ethernet adapter before creating your shopping list.

  • A network hub, switch, or router with enough ports (ports are receptacles for network cables, like jacks for stereo wires or electrical wall outlets for power cords) so that each device on the network will have its own port— A hub such as the Linksys EW5HUB Ethernet 5-Port Workgroup Hub or a switch such as the Linksys EZXS55W EtherFast 10/100 5-port Auto-Sensing Switch might be a good option for a network that does not share a broadband Internet connection. If you intend to share a broadband Internet connection, you will want a router such as the Linksys BEFSR41 EtherFast Cable/DSL Router with 4-Port Switch.

  • A Category 5 (commonly called Cat5) or, preferably, Cat5E cable long enough to reach from each PC to the hub, switch, or router— Recommended practice is to buy cables that are longer than you think you'll need to allow the cables to be neatly laid along the baseboards where they will be less of a hazard.

Phone Line Networks

At first glance, using your existing telephone lines for networking seems like the perfect solution. Instead of messy-looking cables strung out between all your PCs, you simply plug a telephone cord between your PC and the closest wall jack. (See Figure 3-3.)

Figure 3-3. Phone Line Networking Uses Your Existing Telephone Wiring

Unfortunately, phone line networking isn't quite the ideal solution that it seems. Phone line networking is relatively slow and might require considerable telephone jack rewiring in some cases—especially if you have to add new jacks to an older home. In addition, unlike an Ethernet network, different brands of phone line networking equipment are unlikely to work together, so you can't mix and match brands. Finally, phone line networking has gone through several versions and simply hasn't caught on with the public, so you might have limited expansion options in the future if you choose this type of network.

Phone line networks don't require a lot of equipment. Here's a list of what you'll need:

  • Each PC will need a phone line network adapter such as the Linksys HPN200 HomeLink Phoneline 10M Network Card. You can also buy the HPN200SK starter kit that contains two of the network adapters.

  • A telephone cable long enough to reach from the PC to the nearest telephone jack.

  • If you want to connect your phone line network to a cable or DSL Internet connection, you will also need a router such as the Linksys HPRO200 HomeLink PhoneLine 10M Cable/DSL Router. This is not necessary if you don't intend to share an Internet connection.

Power Line

Like phone line networking, power line networking uses existing wiring in your home so that you do not need to run a bunch of cables between rooms. (See Figure 3-4.) In this case, the signal is transmitted using the electrical wiring in your home.

Figure 3-4. Power Line Networking Uses Your Home's Existing Electrical Wiring

Power line networking shares many of the characteristics of phone line networking. In both cases, a number of tradeoffs result from using existing wiring that was not designed (or installed) with data transfers in mind. Power line networking can be a little faster than phone line networking, but the difference is small, and throughput is still far less than for an Ethernet network. Your home will probably have electrical outlets in virtually every room, though, so it's less likely that you'll need to do any rewiring for power line networking. Power line networking is popular in many European countries, but it has not drawn much interest in the U.S. market to date.

Power line networks are similar to phone line networks in the amount of equipment that you need:

  • Each PC needs an adapter such as the Linksys PLUSB10 Instant PowerLine USB Adapter.

  • Every PC needs a port of the correct type (in this example, USB).

  • You need a USB cable long enough to reach from the PC to the electrical outlet where the Instant PowerLine USB Adapter is located.

  • If you want to share an Internet connection, you also need a Linksys PLEBR10 Instant PowerLine EtherFast 10/100 Bridge and a router.

There is an additional fact about both phone line and power line networking that might be important to your decision regarding which type of networking is best for your home. At the current time, neither of these two directly supports devices other than PCs (such as media hubs and wireless webcams), so choosing either of these options will limit your ability to use your home network to distribute multimedia content to an entertainment center or TV.

  • Creative Edge
  • Create BookmarkCreate Bookmark
  • Create Note or TagCreate Note or Tag
  • PrintPrint