Professional Installer’s Guide to IP Networking: Part 1
Once you understand the primary components that go into an IP network, how do you determine which components to choose? As an installer, the first thing to understand is that all networking gear is not made equal, and equipment choice will impact installation complexity, network performance, and the overall customer experience. Let’s further explore each of these components and discuss the various options and things to look for in selecting the right products for your installation.
Most Internet service providers (ISPs) have limited modem options available and it is important to research those options in order to best meet the customer’s needs. Many ISPs also offer an “all-in-one” option that includes a modem, router, and wireless access point in a single device.
These devices are good for small networks of perhaps five to 10 client devices, but as the number of devices in the network increase, these all-in-one devices are quickly overwhelmed and performance is compromised. Think about the number of IP devices (smartphones, tablets, computers, gaming systems, media servers, etc.) an average family of four might use on the network, and that number gets above 10 very quickly.
Because of this, we always recommend stepping up to a standalone modem either from the ISP or from a third party (check with the ISP to see what standalone modems are supported). This option does require a separate router to perform the local area network (LAN) functions, but results in a network that can handle a significantly higher load. The next step up from the standalone modem is a multi-connection gateway. However, this is something most custom installers would not need to be familiar with, as such systems are typically only viable in large business environments.
When a modem connects to the Internet, it is issued a single publicly routable IP Address. A router is then used to allow multiple devices to share that one publicly routable address through a process called network address translation (NAT). In addition, routers typically provide a number of other network services, including: