If you were asked to build a small, Internet-connected network from scratch, what would you need to do?

You would need to buy some hardware:
  • One or more switches / hubs - to link devices together
  • Network cables to connect devices to the switch, etc.
  • A separate wireless access point (or this could be part of the switch) - to allow wireless devices (e.g. laptops or smart-phones) to join the network
  • A router to connect your LAN to the Internet (WAN)
  • A firewall to protect your network from hackers
  • Possibly a bridge if you already have a section of network and you want your new network to connect to it
  • Server(s) to manage network functions such as network security, network file storage, shared resources (such as printers)
You would need to organise some other things:
  • Set up an account with an Internet Service Provider (ISP)
  • Get an Internet connection installed from the ISP to your location
  • Configure various bits of hardware and software so that everything worked with the network
For any network that is more complex than a small home network, there is a lot to do.

It's not just a case of buying the parts and connecting them together...
  • Routers and switches have to be configured (settings changed)
  • Network devices need to be given network addresses
  • Software needs to be configured to use the network
  • Etc...
Networks are pretty complex thing to set-up. The people who do this are called Network Engineers. It's a very interesting technical job, if you like that sort of thing!
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