The definition of network installation is the selection and placement of hardware and equipment that forms a network, or interconnected set of devices.
The process of Network installation includes identifying:
- What the needs of the business are
- Which type of network it will be
- What topology or digital layout it will follow
- What and how much specific hardware it will need
- Where to place hardware to create the greatest efficiencies
Network installation evaluates the scope, cost, and eventual deployment of the network in order to create a physical framework that provides a stable connection, can be easily maintained and/or upgraded, and meets the needs of the business or institution that will be using it.
What is a network?
The first part of network installation definition is the network.
A network is two or more computers (or other computerized devices and equipment, such as printers) that are linked in order to share files, resources, and other information quickly, securely, and easily.
What is the difference between LAN and WAN networks?
These are two different types of networks. LAN stands for Local Area Network, and WAN stands for Wide Area Network.
Almost every instance of network installation is based on establishing a LAN network, often within the confines of a single building. Computers, servers, and other equipment are connected to the LAN through cable connections, or through wireless access points.
WAN, by contrast, connects large networks that span large geographic areas, such as a state, country, or even linking two continents together. WAN networks use powerful satellite uplinks and even submerged transoceanic cables to forge connections and link nodes on the network.
What actually links network devices together?
There’s more than one way to connect two computers together:
- Cables (i.e. Ethernet)
- Telephone lines
- Radio waves (i.e. Wi-Fi)
- Infrared light beams
The two most common by far are radio waves/Wi-Fi and Ethernet cables.
What is a Wi-Fi network?
Networks connected by Wi-Fi are generally easy and inexpensive to set up, but it requires real effort to get them functioning at a high level. Unlike other networks, Wi-Fi networks use the Internet as a Wide Area Network, or WAN, to exchange files, data, etc.
The integrity of radio waves is impacted by physical obstructions–such as walls, which are very common in indoor settings–and by signal strength–meaning that a simple location change can result in a slower, less stable connection. Wi-Fi in general is slower and has greater latency than any other type of network.
Wi-Fi networks are also the least secure, since they are visible to everybody with an Internet-accessible device, and because the radio-wave based network is more vulnerable to hacking and malware than wired networks. Thus in a Wi-Fi network, data encryption, malware protection, and user-end security protocols are vitally important.
What is an Ethernet network?
Ethernet uses physical wiring to connect devices and transmit information using a protocol, or specific network language. Ethernet can be used on LAN or WAN, but a local network is most common, such as a home or office network.
Ethernet has a lower price point than satellite and infrared networks, and much greater speed and reliability than telephone lines and Wi-Fi. As a wired network, it is also very secure, since anyone who wants to use the network must have a device that is physically plugged in to and also configured to work with its particular protocols. These networks also typically utilize a special firewall device as well, so that the network is protected physically and digitally.
This type of network experiences very little latency, lag, or transmission cross-noise, especially compared to its greatest competitor, Wi-Fi. The twisted-wire or fiber optic cables that make up the sinews of an Ethernet network have a much greater bandwidth than the radio waves of Wi-Fi, which means that they can carry and deliver larger files at greater speeds.
Because of its speed, reliability, affordability, and security, you’ll find Ethernet networks in a variety of institutions, from school campuses to doctor’s offices to businesses both large and small.
What is network topology?
Network topology is essentially the blueprint or layout of a network.
Network installation uses both a physical topology–which dictates where exactly equipment, devices, and data ports will be placed–and logical network topology–which describes the digital pattern that a network uses to trade files, data, and information.
Topology balances the objectives of the network, the physical layout of the installation space, the devices in use, and the hardware required to select and implement the most efficient system for individual Ethernet networks.
What kind of hardware is installed to create a network?
First of all, a wired network needs, you guessed it, wires. These connect a network’s modem, or modem-and-router combo, with computers and devices through Ethernet ports.
There are four primary types of wire used for Ethernet network installation: Cat 5e, Cat 6, Cat7, and Fiber Optic.
This type of wire is outdated in terms of its speed and reliability, and it’s in the process of being phased out by the installation industry. This also makes it the cheapest cable out there, but because of its performance issues, we don’t recommend it.
Cat 6 cable
Cat 6 cable is reliable and affordable, and provides data speeds up to 10 GB, as long as the length of the cable is under 90 meters. It’s great for small offices and home networks.
Cat 7 cable
With better performance and the ability to do so across longer distances, Cat 7 cable is the best choice for bigger facilities.
Fiber optic cable
This type of cable is ultra-fast, thanks to the thin strands of glass, instead of copper, that it uses to transmit information. More expensive than Cat cables, fiber optic is still the perfect option for businesses who need a network that connects a large number of devices, or that has complex operating needs.
Beyond wiring, there’s a fair amount of other hardware that needs to be in place in order for a network to function:
- RJ45 connectors
- Data plugs
- Wall plates
- Wireless router and access points
- Patch panels
- Patch cables
- Ethernet switches
- Plastic grommets
- Velcro strips and cable ties
Importance of network installation
Network installation is the first step in the deployment of a functional, high-operating network that helps a business meet its objectives.
An incomplete and faulty installation will create a network that has lower performance and is susceptible to premature failure. It may also make maintenance and scaling difficult or impossible.
A complete and careful installation results in a network that is clearly organized, has stable connections, high data speeds, and little to no lag. A good installation will also give you a network that is easy to maintain and scale over time.