Data Communications



First of all, let us take a look at what the phrase ‘Data Communications’ actually means. In short, it is the concept of two machines being able to communicate data with one another. There are truly very many ways in which this is done but we are only going to look at the methods that effect our environment.

Ever since Data Communication has become widespread around the world, a need arose for standardisation to be implemented allowing compatibility between different types of devices. This was done by a group of professionals known as the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). The IEEE describes itself as "the world's largest technical professional society; promoting the development and application of electro technology and allied sciences for the benefit of humanity, the advancement of the profession, and the well-being of our members." One of the technologies they have developed is known as Ethernet 802 standard which governs local area networks (wired LANs). Ethernet governs the way in which Data Communications are done across the spectrum.

Before we get into the details of Ethernet we must first look at what is required to get two nodes (any intelligent device e.g. computer or router) to actually ‘exchange’ data. There are four basic components that are required for any Data Communication to take place:

  1. Node: A computer, router, bridge or server
  2. Transmission Medium: The stuff through which the data is travelling. This can be either two copper wires twisted together known as UDP, fibre optic cable or just plain air (WiFi / Microwave).
  3. Network Interface Card (NIC): The device that translates the node’s data into data that conforms to the Ethernet standards.
  4. Network Software: In many cases an Operating System includes software that facilitates Data Communications. Ubuntu uses specific software called Samba that facilitates file and printer sharing within the Ubuntu Linux environment.

Transmission Medium:

Transmission media can be split into two main sub-categories:

Bounded media: This is the type of media that depends on wires in their various shapes and sizes:

Unbounded Media: This type of media is totally different in that it naturally occurs like air.

The Areas Networks Cover:

As I mentioned in the previous section, computer networks have become widespread around the world and they cover different areas. The areas that are covered by computer networks have been categorised into the following main sub-categories:

There is another standard that controls the way in which computers are distributed in a computer network and this called network Topology.

The main topologies supported by Ethernet are:


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