Home Networking Guide : Mixing Different Networks

Mixing Networks
Figure: Network Bridge. A bridge connects wired Ethernet and wireless LAN (Wi-Fi) networks.

If you have two or more network types at home such as Ethernet and Wi-Fi (or other LAN technologies) you can use a (network) bridge to connect the networks. A bridge unites the networks so they work as one network. In the above diagram, computers that belong to an Ethernet network can communicate with computers or devices in a Wi-Fi network through a bridge.

A bridge is not necessarily a separate device. In the networking market, network bridging function is usually incorporated into an access point, a switch, or a router. So you can hardly find a network bridge as a separate product in a computer store. And bridging function can also be performed by a software application. For example, Windows XP will create network bridging automatically if it detects more than one network adapters installed in a computer.

Bridge Facts
1. Bridge is a (OSI Model's) Layer 2 device.
2. A bridge connects networks with different Layer 2 protocols.
3. A bridge can be hardware or software.
4. In real world networking, the function of a bridge is usually integrated into a wireless access point or router.

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