To date, this course has allowed for an exploration of the different components that make up the networks that are most commonly used today. This material has included, but has not been limited to the common Ethernet standards found in a switched LAN fabric and the nature of Ethernet frames processed in LAN switching. We have explored the ways to differentiate between the different types of network media used, how to differentiate between TCP/IP protocols, and explored IPv4 addressing schemes employed in a networked environment. While I have had ample experience in setting up various types of networks, this was done prior to gigabit speeds becoming the norm; as such, I have indeed learned quite a bit from this course to date. To demonstrate some of the knowledge obtained as a result of this course, a description of my previous home network is provided, combined with information on how I would upgrade and improve my current home network, if I had the capabilities to do so at this time.

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My current home network consists of a Netgear WNDR4500 modem router combination, purchased in 2012. The cabling in the house is Cat5, not Cat5e, and there are three PCs and one printer that are directly connected and two gaming systems, two phones, one tablet, and one laptop that utilize the wireless connection. A wireless signal booster is also present in the living room, as this room is the farthest away from the office where the Netgear is located; it is unknown at this time as to what brand it was, as this has long since worn off, leaving a simple white box plugged into an out of the way socket in the wall. While the majority of the local area network (LAN) has not been upgraded since 2012, due primarily to a lack of time, and secondarily to fiscal reasons, the knowledge I have gained in this course indicates to me that it is time to try to upgrade the system.

The modem router combination was purchased in 2012 as it was cheaper to do so than to continue modem rental fees from my internet service provider (ISP). Since that time, I have moved and the house is serviced by a local company that offers fiber to the home (FTTH). A modem is no longer necessary for a connection, but a router is required. In light of this, I would switch to an Asus RT-AC68U router, listed as one of the top wi-fi routers for use in the optimization of fiber networks, suitable for home or small business use; this router retails for slightly more than $150 USD (Beyond Tech, 2016). The cabling used makes a difference in the home as well; to this end, while Cat5e is still sufficient to allow for optimal use of network speeds when gigabits and not megabytes or kilobytes are now the norm, Cat5 is considered out of date, something that I had not realized (Merritt, 2010). To this end, the next step that I would take would be upgrading all the wiring in the house to Cat6; at roughly $11 per 100 feet of cabling, this is quite a reasonable expense for the home, and as it will make a large difference, particularly now that I am using FTTH, there is no reason not to do so. The wireless signal extender was purchased only two years ago and has provided a high boost to signal strength in the living room; if the new router does not offer a boost, this should be kept.

Looking next to the type of IP addressing to be used, since this is within a home network, dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP), wherein the router is responsible for assigning the next available IP to the connected device, makes more sense than static IP addressing, wherein each device has its own IP address (Baker, 2012). As with most things, networking included, when setting up, simple is better than unnecessarily complicated, particularly in a location in which others frequently connect their own personal devices, like friends’ phones or portable devices (Baker, 2012). As TCP/IP protocol is being used, the first three octets of the address will be the same for all connected devices, with the variation present on the final octet (Addison, 2001). While these are not the only changes that could be made to my home network, they are the changes that would have the greatest positive effects on the speed and performance of the network, as the network can only be as good as the tools and configuration that are used in its creation.

    References
  • Addison, D. (2001). Setting up a Local Area Network. Ibm.com. Retrieved from https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/l-lan/
  • Baker, D. (2012). DHCP vs. Static IP—Which Is Better?. Control4.com. Retrieved from https://www.control4.com/blog/2012/11/dhcp-vs-static-ip-which-is-better
  • Beyond Tech,. (2016). Top: Wi-Fi Routers for Fiber Optics – Optimize your 2016 FTTH network. Beyondtech, Inc. Retrieved from https://beyondtech.us/blogs/beyond-blog/top-wi-fi-routers-for-fiber-optics-optimize-your-2016-ftth-network
  • Merritt, T. (2010). How to pick the right cables for your home network. Tech Culture. Retrieved from https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-pick-the-right-cables-for-your-home-network/