IPIQ: Professional Installer’s Guide to IP Networking
With AV, security, and home automation systems all running over IP networks, professional installers have a tremendous opportunity to grow their businesses by offering networking solutions.
While installing an IP network can be a daunting task for the uninitiated, by understanding the purpose and function of a few key components—as well as what to look for when selecting those components—a professional installer can easily learn to deliver reliable and powerful IP networking solutions. Last month, we covered modems and routers; read on for more information about additional key components.
An ethernet switch is required when the number of router ports is not sufficient to provide connections to all the devices on a network. Switches are the backbone of the private network, allowing locally connected devices to talk to each other, as well as access router services. There are two primary types of switches:
1. Unmanaged (sometimes referred to as dumb) switches provide simple plug-and-play connectivity between devices on the network.
2. Managed (smart) switches allow you to enhance the user experience by optimizing the network for certain applications. Common managed switch features include:
• Quality of Services (QoS) Settings: Useful for prioritizing certain types of network traffic, such as VoIP phone services, to ensure such traffic gets through first.
• Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) Support: Allows partitioning of ports in a large switch into multiple logical smaller switches that cannot speak with each other, but still share a single connection to the Internet. This is useful for setting up dedicated networks with different functions (e.g., a guest network).
• Security features such as media access control (MAC) binding and radius server authentication.
Another thing to consider is the switch speed. Fast ethernet (10/100 Mbps) switches are a cost-effective common standard. However, for high data usage (e.g., streaming media servers), Gigabit Ethernet (10/100/1000 Mbps) is typically the best option. Also, be sure the switch supports full upstream and downstream bandwidth (sometimes referred to as non-blocking architecture).