Develop a basic understanding of the terms speed, bandwidth, throughput and latency to enable students to discuss network performance. Explore instances when wireless and wired connections are used and discuss the advantages and disadvantages. Explore ways smartphones and tablets, use a combination of wireless communication methods to connect to different devices. Create a how to guide to tether your phone and consider online security.
Flow of Activities
Networks can vary greatly in their performance and reliability. Network performance can be measured by speed, bandwidth, throughput and latency.
'Bandwidth' refers to how much data a network can carry. Internet speed is measured in bits per second. 'Throughput' is the amount of data you get in a certain amount of time. 'Latency' refers to the delay from when you asked for the data to when you received the data.
On networks, each byte of data is transmitted one bit at a time. Network bandwidth, or data transfer rate, is expressed in bits per second. For example, a one megabit (1,000,000 bits) connection means that data can be in theory transmitted at one megabit per second (1 Mb/s).
If internet speed is an issue, an internet speed test can provide a fairly accurate indication of how much bandwidth is available at that point in time.
There are two ways to connect devices: wired or wirelessly. The reliability and speed of transmitting data through wireless and wired networks varies.
Devices may be connected through cables for example Ethernet (like the blue networking cables). These are useful for transmission of data over short distances. Fibre optic cables that use light are used to send data over long distances all around the world.
For connecting wirelessly, we use Wi-Fi. It enables electronic devices to be connected to a computer network wirelessly, typically using radio waves.
Bluetooth enables a user to use wireless devices with their smartphone over a short range. Devices include Bluetooth headsets, headphones, a hands‑free system in your car, audio speakers and fitness trackers.
Smartphones and tablets, use a combination of wireless communication methods to connect to different devices.
When making a voice call from one smartphone to another, a cellular connection is used to connect the two. Cellular connections use radio waves that carry voice and data between devices and a wireless network. Smartphones can also access data from the internet using a 3G or 4G networks.
A cellular (mobile phone) network is made up of a large number of signal areas called cells. These cells join or overlap each other to form a large coverage area. A mobile base station sends/receives radio signals and is responsible for forming the cell area. The positioning of these towers is important for network reliability.
There are occasions when you may need internet access for your laptop or tablet.
Tethering (or hotspotting) allows a user to connect a computer or tablet using their phone's connection to the cellular data network so they can access the Internet. This can be done via a USB cord or by enabling access and connection to the phone's Wi-Fi network.