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Common Misconceptions about Computer Networks

By March 25, 2015September 9th, 2020Blog

TRUE: Computer Networks Are Useful Even Without Internet Access!

Some people assume networking only makes sense for those who have Internet service. While hooking up an Internet connection is standard on many home networks, it is not required. Home networking supports sharing files and printers, streaming music or video, or even gaming among devices in the house, all without Internet access. Clearly, the ability to get online only adds to a network’s capabilities and is increasingly becoming a necessity for many families.

FALSE: Wi-Fi Is the Only Kind of Wireless Networking

The terms “wireless network” and “Wi-Fi network” sometimes get used interchangeably. All Wi-Fi networks are wireless, but wireless also includes types of networks built using other technologies such as Bluetooth. Wi-Fi remains by far the most popular choice for home networking, while cell phones and other mobile devices also support Bluetooth, LTE or others.

TRUE: Individuals Can Be Tracked Online By Their IP Address

Although a person’s device can theoretically be assigned any public Internet Protocol (IP) address, the systems used to allocate IP addresses on the Internet tie them to geographic location to some extent. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) obtain blocks of public IP addresses from an Internet governing body (the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority – IANA) and supply their customers with addresses from these pools. Customers of an ISP in one city, for example, generally share a pool of addresses with consecutive numbers.

FALSE: Networks Transfer Files At Their Rated Bandwidth Levels

It’s logical to assume a Wi-Fi connection rated at 54 Megabit per second (Mbps) is capable of transferring a file of size 54 megabits in one second. In practice, most types of network connections, including Wi-Fi and Ethernet, do not perform anywhere close to their rated bandwidth numbers.

Beside the file data itself, networks also must support features like control messages, packet headers and occasional data retransmissions, each of which can consumes significant bandwidth. Wi-Fi also supports a feature called “dynamic rate scaling” that automatically reduces connection speeds down to 50%, 25% or even less of the maximum rating in some situations. For these reasons, 54 Mbps Wi-Fi connections typically transfer file data at rates closer to 10 Mbps. Similar data transfers on Ethernet networks also tend to run at 50% or less of their maximum.

So there you have it ladies and gentlemen… common misconceptions about networks and the real truth behind them!

Alisha Khan, PEI

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