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LAN and Ethernet Cabling

LAN Ethernet cabling

LAN, which stands for Local Area Network, is aptly named: it describes a network which connects computers in close proximity, but does not include access to the World Wide Web. Although a LAN does not provide Internet connection, it must be regarded as a highly useful and efficient tool for networking within a building. The system which makes local area networks possible is often referred to as Ethernet, so named because it is akin to a physical manifestation of the hypothetical ether.

It's important to remember that the local area network is the network itself, and Ethernet is the system which hosts that network. However, these terms are often used interchangeably.

How Local Area Networks Work

There are a few different ways in which computers may interact with each other. Two computers can connect wirelessly directly to each other, if both computers have the capability to do so. Computers can also connect via the Internet, which links thousands of computers at once to interactive online databases.

In between these two extremes falls Ethernet. Ethernet allows local area networks, which generally connect the computers in a building to each other via group-accessible databases. Local area networks can't be completely wireless (although individual computers can connect to the network wirelessly if they have the capability). Minimally, networks must have physical cables which connect the database or databases to wireless routers strategically placed throughout a building. Of course, it is possible to cable desktop computers directly to the database rather than relying on wireless signals. The databases themselves must also be properly wired and cabled for a LAN to work.

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Functions of Local Area Networks

A fully functional local area network facilitates the exchange of information between multiple computers at once. This lends itself to many different purposes, a sampling of which is as follows. LANs enable the creation and use of tools like customer databases, which help to keep everything organised and convenient. For example, an employee could make note of a customer's specific instructions in that customer's personal file within the database. The next employee to access the file will be able to see those instructions as well. Since everything is done electronically, there are no post-it notes lying around to get lost, ignored, or seen by the wrong people. This enables consistent customer service, no matter who ends up filling that customer's order.

LANs also make it easy to use tools like email templates. Templates can be created and stored in the company database, to be accessed by whoever needs to use them. If a change is made to one of the templates, it needs only to be changed once before everyone will be able to access the new version. Without a LAN, email templates would need to be forwarded via Internet or flash drive to every single computer that might use them and saved on each computer's own hard drive. Local area networks therefore help to reduce wasted time and clutter.

There are many more functions of local area networks, as well. For anything that utilises connections between local computers, LANs are practically essential.

Ethernet vs. Internet

The Ethernet and the Internet have an obvious similarity: they both allow computers to network with a database and with each other to rapidly share information. The difference is that the Internet allows connection to the World Wide Web and everything that comes with it, whereas Ethernet is confined to local connections and does not support web pages. One might question whether Ethernet is really necessary or useful at all, since Internet access can offer the same sort of functionality and more besides.

It's true that the uses of local area connections can be mimicked by the Internet, but there are definite advantages to having both an Ethernet and an Internet network. Some of those advantages are:

  • Ethernet is more secure than Internet, since access to the local area network is confined within the business building. For sensitive materials, like customers' contact and billing information, the extra security of Ethernet is ideal.
  • Ethernet draws power from within the building, and all the cabling and the database - the entire network - is housed within the building as well. As long as the building has power and the cables are properly connected, there's no reason the network should ever be non-accessible to those who are authorised to use it. Conversely, web servers on the Internet are more liable to crash and Internet access often depends on the business' location and current weather conditions.

Ideally, a business should have both Internet access and a local area network with a personal server, made possible by Ethernet.

Ethernet Cabling

Ethernet cables are literally the strings which hold LANs together. They make connections within the network and ensure that individual computers can access that network, either through a physical cable or a wireless router. The most common sort of Ethernet cable in use today is Category 5e (Cat5e) cable, which uses twisted-pair copper wires to transfer data. When somebody refers to "Ethernet cabling," it's a safe bet that they are talking about Cat5e. However, other types of cables are also available. Newer and faster cables are Cat6, Cat6a, and Cat7, which are also twisted-pair copper wires. For very large and complex Ethernet systems, a fibre optic cable may be appropriate to form the "backbone" of the system. The best kind of cable for any specific network depends on the size and needs, both current and projected, of that network.

LANs and Ethernet at ACCL

Active Communication Company Ltd understands that often, businesses aren't sure exactly what they need. That's why ACCL's trained, professional staff offers a free on-site consultation to assess the conditions and make appropriate recommendations. ACCL can draw custom Ethernet cabling plans and have everything installed and tested on-schedule so that the entire network is fully functional as soon as possible. Any business which is in need of an Ethernet connection to host a local area network should be confident in the expertise of Active Communication Company Ltd.

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ACCL experts in LAN and Ethernet cabling