There are several devices in the networking world that enable you to connect multiple devices to the internet. Routers, hubs, and switches are commonly used devices in networking and each has its advantages.
We know that router is a comprehensive device that works like a switch as well as provides Wireless Access Point. But the number of devices you can connect with the router is minimal. This is where the switch comes in.
A network switch has a lot of ports and enables you to connect multiple devices at the same time through an Ethernet cable. But does it reduce the internet speed? Let us discuss what happens in a Network switch and understand whether it splits the speed or not.
Does a network switch split speed?
A Network Switch does not split or reduce the speed with which each device accesses the internet. The working of a network switch is quite intelligent and it has the necessary hardware to manage the data packets without getting into traffic. Let us understand the working of a network switch to realize why the speed is not split.
Working of a Network Switch
We mentioned that a switch doesn’t split the speed with the connected devices. The working of a switch will let you know how it happens. Here is a step-by-step function of a Network switch:
- When you connect a device to the switch, it recognizes the MAC address of the device. The network card of the device will be connected to the switch via an Ethernet cable.
- Using the MAC address, the switch can understand which data packets are sent by the device and received for it.
- When a data packet comes into the switch, it recognizes the device it is meant for from the header in the packet. The header will have the address of the device which will be matched against the MAC address registered in the switch.
- Now the switch will send the packets to the appropriate device through the port it is connected to.
When multiple devices are connected, the same procedure happens. But what if a collision happens between the incoming and outgoing packets as well as between the different connected devices?
This is where a switch handles it intelligently through full duplex functionality. Imagine making a call over a mobile phone where both the caller and receiver can speak simultaneously. A full duplex functionality enables the device to send and receive data in both directions at the same time.
This transmission of data is done on the available bandwidth without any reduction in the speed. Even if multiple devices send and receive data, the switch manages the traffic using the full duplex function and provides the same bandwidth to all the devices.
So, if you are having a 100Mbps connection and you are using a switch to connect several devices, all of the will get the same 100Mbps speed to access the internet.
Why do we need to split the speed of the network?
Most of the time, you don’t need to split the network speed. Because you want all your devices to access the internet at the same bandwidth. But sometimes, especially in a work environment, you might have more than 1000Mbps speed which can be split for multiple departments within your office.
In such cases, you will need separate routers and you will have to use an Ethernet splitter. The splitter will split the connection into two and using a network cable, you can connect two routers.
The routers will have a few Ethernet ports with which you can connect one switch to each router. Through the switch, you can connect multiple devices and get the same bandwidth that was initially split using the splitter.
Say you are having 1000Mbps speed provided by your Internet service provider. With the splitter, you can split the speed into two 500Mbps connections. Now, you can connect two routers with the connections from the splitter.
You will have two routers and with each router, you can connect one switch using an Ethernet cable. Using the switch, connect all the devices and you will get the 500Mbps speed in all the devices.
So, if you want to provide high-speed internet access to all your devices, you can use a network switch.
Which Purpose network switch is used?
A network switch can be used in the following areas and scenarios:
- Connecting Different Hosts – When you want to connect several different computers or devices to a network, then you have to use switches. They are usually equipped with more than 8 ports and can go up to 48 ports. You can also use different switches and operate them individually. The devices don’t have to be in the same area. A switch can connect devices across the globe if the MAC address is registered with it.
- Reduce Traffic Loads – Network traffic can occur due to several reasons. With the use of switches, you will be able to reduce the load with the help of Forwarding. Also, the full-duplex function doesn’t let collisions occur in the network.
- Get Equal Bandwidth – When you want the bandwidth from the ISP to be available for all devices without any reduction, then a switch will be the ultimate choice. It can manage and maintain the speeds.
- Forward Data to Specific Host – If you don’t want to broadcast the data to all the connected devices and just want a specific device to receive data, then you can use a switch. It can forward data only to the device it is meant for since the switch will read the header and recognize the MAC address.
These are the applications of a network switch that will enable you to connect and manage multiple devices in the network.
We have now understood the functioning of a network switch and its ability to maintain or increase bandwidth to each connected device. It doesn’t split the speed but rather uses a full duplex functionality to maintain the bandwidth. It also effectively manages traffic and avoids collisions despite having a large number of connected devices.