Network Terms Demystified


Inside plant - All of the components of the University network that are contained within campus buildings, including wall jacks, copper wiring, switches, and intermediate and main telecommunications rooms.

Optical fiber cables - Bundles of thin, flexible glass or plastic that can be used to transmit pulses of light through long distances. The pulses of light are used to transmit large quantities of data (information).

Outside plant - The underground duct banks and fiber-optic cabling that interconnect campus buildings and connect the University network to the Internet and the global community beyond the campus borders.

Router - A router is an electronic device that makes forwarding decisions based on the electrical and optical packets of data it receives from different locations. For example, a router in Machinery Hall forwards data between Hinds Hall and the Warehouse.

Switch - A switch is an electronic device that interconnects network devices in a network segment, usually designed around a geographic area or a specific purpose, such as a computer laboratory. For example, a series of switches are located in the Warehouse. The switches enable the network devices in that building to transmit and receive data from the server, which is also located in that building. A switch will forward traffic to a router when the traffic needs to get to another location outside of its local network segment.

Telecommunications rooms - Rooms located within campus buildings that house the copper and fiber cable termination points and the equipment that directs data traffic within the building and all of the data that flows into and out of the building.

Telecommunication Equipment Room - The "Grand Central Station" of the University's network that interconnects the optical fibers from locations around the campus and houses a series of routers and switches that work together to transmit data to both the internal campus network and to the Internet.

Wall jacks - A wall-mounted connector that provides the link between your computer cable and the network, or your telephone and the telephone switch.

Wireless access points - Equipment that is mounted on walls and ceilings throughout buildings that provide the link between the radio signals submitted from your laptop computer and the University's wired network.

Copper wiring - The wiring that transmits data and voice from the office wall jack throughout the building.