The growth of the internet, bluetooth, wifi, and GPS have demonstrated the benefits of connectivity in today’s world. Have you ever stopped to think about the billions of tiny bits of hardware that make this connectivity possible? Networking hardware and infrastructure is complex and fascinating. It’s the physical receivers, chips, a
nd transmitters that make connectivity possible in our day to day lives.
Including cell phones, computers, smart TVs, routers, modems, and GPSs, there are billions of devices connected to the internet, and the number is growing daily. A new trend in networking, the internet of things, promises to skyrocket the number of devices on the network over the coming years as stop lights, thermostats, security systems, and even your home refrigerator integrate and communicate with the other devices in your life.
While the seamless automation and efficiency of the internet of things promises to bring new levels of productivity, it also presents challenges as it increases the load on existing network hardware that currently powers the internet. This article will introduce you to the basics of networking hardware and discuss some of the challenges facing network engineers in the years to come.
Networking Hardware: A Brief Introduction
It wasn’t so long ago that computers stood alone, unconnected to the internet. Dialup internet, the first implementation of internet connection for most home users, didn’t become widely adopted until the late-1990s. In those days, the 56 Kbps modem was the most common network device allowing your computer to communicate with other computers on the internet via the phone line, and if someone in your house picked up the telephone, you’d lose your internet connection.
Since then, internet speeds have increased exponentially. According to CNN, the average American home internet has now reached speeds over 50 Mbps. That’s nearly 1000 times faster than internet in the 1990s. Although the technology and means of delivery have changed dramatically, you still need a piece of networking hardware, called a modem to receive data from the internet and decode it into meaningful information for your computer to use. This is the first basic piece of in-home networking hardware: the modem that connects you to the internet.
In most homes, you no longer have to plug in a cord to connect to the internet. Wifi technology comprises the second stage of in-home networking hardware. A wireless router communicates with your modem and broadcasts the modem’s signal to your home. This allowing you to move freely around the house with your wifi-enabled devices. Each of these devices – like your phone, tablet, or laptop – has a piece of networking hardware inside of it. That little piece of networking hardware allows it to send and receive signals from the wireless router.
A new trend is adding connectivity to other devices in your home, like your thermostat or alarm system. These connected devices that aren’t computers make up what’s known as the internet of things, and it’s growing. However, in 2017, only about 10% of consumers have such connected devices in their homes, so the internet of things still remains outside of the mainstream. Over the coming years that will change. By 2020, according to Gartner research, there will be 25 billion devices connected to the internet of things, not only in your home but also on the street, in stores, and everywhere in daily life.
Low Power Solutions: Why Using and Connecting to a Bluetooth Device Makes Sense
Think About This
As the internet of things grows, it becomes increasingly difficult for companies and consumers to manage and power their devices. In fact, according to Network Computing, powering devices is one of the main challenges for IoT and networking hardware infrastructure. The sheer number of devices means that power management and energy saving measures are going to be paramount to the successful implementation of connected devices. Especially for companies with large networks of devices.
Don’t Forget That
Sometimes, connecting to bluetooth device infrastructures may make sense. Bluetooth technology has been around for over twenty years, and it’s well-understood. It uses lower energy wavelengths than wifi to deliver information. Most of us are familiar with bluetooth. We may occasionally use bluetooth to pair our phones with our car speakers or a wireless headset. However, Bluetooth has potential for broader applications, and the low energy requirements of Bluetooth make it an attractive alternative for connecting networking hardware.
Overall, connecting devices to the network has huge potential to facilitate and automate everyday life. In the near future, your fridge could tell you when you’re out of milk. Your car will likely connect to the internet while you’re driving so it can communicate with other cars on the road. This will offer entertainment options for passengers. You’ll increasingly see in-store devices at clothing retailers and grocery stores. These are items that help you find items and give the store feedback on new things you’d like to purchase. All these applications and more are coming in the near future, thanks to advances in networking hardware.