Gateway, Switch, Router, Hub, WTF?

I want to upgrade and expand my home network, which currently runs through the phone line, to a 10/100 mbps network, with access in every room.

I’m going to run the ethernet cable through the interstitial space this week and install ports in all the bedrooms and the garage, leading to the main workstation downstairs.

What do I need to connect everything at the source (we use a DSL modem)? One thing to keep in mind is that our provider uses PPPoE so we’ve had to use shitty programs like WinGate and SyGate in the past in order to connect, instead of Windows internet connection sharing, if that matters. The reason I mention that is because one of the gateways I was looking at says that PPPoE client is supported, so it makes me wonder if the other things do not support that type of connection.

I haven’t been able to tell much difference between the gateway, switch, router and hub so far, so which one should I be looking for? Also, which ones have firewalls built into them?

Thanks for your help.

Sounds like what you need is a router. A pretty good router to get for this kind of thins is the FR3004LC manufactured by Asante Technologies. It should be able to do what you need to do.

Here is a link to the product page.

Asante also has a decent explanation of What is the difference between a hub, switch and router? The terms “gateway” and “router” in most cases can be used interchangebly.

Hope that’s helpful.

ACK! …kind of thing even! Preview! thumps self on head

This is what I use, and it works for me:

1)The incoming line is connected to a Netgear gateway router. It has a firewall built in, uses NAT translation (also for security), and serves as a DHCP server (which you will need so that your ISP is only charging you for a single IP address)

  1. The router is connected to a 100M switch for distribution.

  2. All nodes are connected to the switch.

A hub could be used in place of the switch. You could, however, have your DSL modem connected directly to a server, and use the server as a proxy/DHCP server for all the other nodes.

I have a similar set-up at home.

Because I have only a few machines, I’m perfectly happy to use a 100 MB hub to connect all my nodes. The extra performance a switch might give me is not really worth the extra money a switch would cost.

I have my cable modem connected to an NT server running the MS proxy server Back Office product.

I don’t use DHCP on the server; again, with the small number of machines I have it’s just as easy to give each machine a static address.

It works like a champ.

  • Rick

Thanks everyone, for your advice. Quixotica, that link really helped explain the difference between the different components. I am considering the 3Com® Home Ethernet Gateway. It seems to have the functions I’d like. The only thing is, I’d like to have one more port available for the garage, but I guess I could run that straight off the downstairs computer.

In general, repeaters, bridges, routers, gateways and hubs are all physical devices responsible for propagating packets of information across a network.

Repeater simply boost signal strength on some types of network (since signal strength degrades over distance and with an increasing number of workstations).

Bridges connect two like types of network, and are mainly used to extend networks to avoid restrictions on the number of attached workstations or maximum cable lengths. Bridges can also translate traffic between different network types (e.g. token ring to ethernet). These are not intelligent devices like routers, so they simply push all traffic across without looking at the best route to deliver packets of information.

Routers examine the address attached to packets of information and determine the optimum route to the destination. They can balance the load to avoid congestion on particular routes, communicate constantly with other routers to keep each other updated with the set-up of the routes, and can also be used to filter information being sent. Bridging routers, also known as brouters, combine this with the functions of a bridge.

Gateways convert traffic from one communications protocol to another (e.g. translating TCP/IP data traffic to SPX/IPX traffic).

Switches (or intelligent hubs) generally add security to network traffic by restricting messages to the destination (rather than allowing it to circulate through all network devices). They connect a limited number of workstations to create a more secure section of the network.

Of course, I could’ve stuck to the fantastic


The 3com is a pretty good router too. It’s one of the ones I considered. I’m glad that link was helpful.

If you need extra ports, you can always buy a switch or a hub, and then uplink the router to it. Voila! 3 ports on the router and X more ports from the hub/switch available to use for more computers.