Network communication has evolved over a period only to ensure flawless functioning and improving data transmission speeds. Network protocols can be loosely defined as a bunch of rules that govern the communication pathways among several computers’ access method, allowed physical topologies, types of cabling, and speed of data transfer.
Most networking systems, today, follow the OSI 7 Layer model, which uses the layering design. Layering refers to a design where there are a number of smaller parts, each assigned the duty of communicating with other parts in a predefined manner. Layering keeps the design simple, with the purpose of keeping erroneous parts from causing complications.
The presence of network protocols gives the user an improved computing experience by providing more paths for communication. Let’s get to understanding the different types.
Ethernet makes use of the CSMA/CD (Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection) access method, where the computer “listens” to every transmission before it is sent. If the computer at the receiving end is busy, the sender waits for a random amount of time before it proceeds to resend the data. This may sound time-consuming, but in the actual, it is not. The data transmission rate with the original Ethernet method was a measly 10 Mbps, but improved versions are already in place. The best part about it is that it works on wireless and coaxial systems. With Ethernet, the stream of data is broken down into smaller fragments, called frames. These frames have their origin and destination addresses on them as well as an error identification system which enables re-transmission. It is Ethernet’s smooth functionality which has boosted its utility.
Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet
If the Ethernet technology fell short performance-wise, it was only due to its dull speed. The introduction of fast Ethernet managed to revise that by transmitting at an improved speed of 100 Mbps. Being an upgraded version of the Ethernet, it runs on CSMA/CD, works on UTP or fiber-optic cable, and uses a star-wired bus topology.
Gigabit Ethernet transmits data at a speed of 1 Gbps. The initial versions ran on fiber-optic cables, and further revisions allowed it to transmit using UTP and copper cables. It is a widely used network protocol.
Local Talk is a protocol that is exclusive to Apple Macintosh computers. The method they use is CSMA/CA (Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Avoidance). A slight variation from the CSMA/CD is employed here, wherein the computer first indicated its intent to transmit a signal before it actually attempts to do so. A specific type of twisted cable is used along with Local Talk adapters to connect to create a network of computers using a serial port.
The only apparent drawback of this protocol is its rather slow 230 Kbps speed; however, it remains a pretty decent network protocol.
Asynchronous Transfer Mode is used to transmit data at a high speed of 155 Mbps or more. In order to do this, the data that needs to be transferred is broken into smaller packets (which are of a fixed size), as opposed to the other methods. This enables the computer to achieve faster transfer speeds. ATM supports quality imaging and audio files. This system is often used to connect two or more LANs, and to provide high-speed Internet connections.
Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) is a protocol that is used for data transmission in a LAN as well as other networks spread over a wide area. It makes use of fiber-optic cables, operating at a decent speed of 100 Mbps. Thanks to its speed, FDDI was prominently used before fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet took over. The FDDI uses a dual-ring physical topology, where data tokens are passed over a single ring. In case of a break in transmission, the token moves to utilize sections on the second ring, thereby creating a new ring to transmit data.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is used to upload web pages from an individual user on to a web-hosting server. Basically, it is used to put up files and documents over the internet. Now, there are several graphical user interfaces like MS Expression Web and CuteFTP which assist the user in web design.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the basic medium of communication over the World Wide Web. Hypertext links the nodes (text) to build a network, and HTTP is the communication tool.
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) is the protocol used by mail servers to send and receive electronic mail messages, however the user level clients use it only to dispatch mails in order to be relayed.
Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP) is used to control media servers. Its main objective is to control real-time communication and operation of media files between the user (client) and the media server.
Constant improvements in the area of network protocols will enhance the computing experience in the years to come. From the user’s point of view, the best protocol is obviously the one that is lightning fast.