Unit 5: Week 1: Wired and Wireless Networks

Unit 5: Week 1: Wired and Wireless Networks

Essential Questions

  • How do I install a network that meets my needs, whether at home or in a work setting? What options are there to optimize my network configuration?
  • Wired or wireless? Which is better for different settings?

Big Ideas

All of the computing devices we use at home, school, work and elsewhere rely on being able to connect to and gather or share information across a network. Without network access, all of the expensive computing devices we use on a daily basis would be almost useless. We live in a connected world and we rely on safe and secure networks to keep us connected.

The way networks are configured and operate have evolved over the years and will likely continue to do so, but there are many basic concepts about networking that you can learn and build on. While many devices can now access fast wireless networks, there are still instances when a wired network may be a better choice. The configuration of a network through its hardware, software, and cabling can impact how well your network transfers information (data) to and from users as well as how safe and secure that data–and your user’s devices–are.

Connection to Student Lives

You may take networks for granted, that is, until it doesn’t work or you can’t find one! Knowing the basics of networking and being able to set up a small network is a valuable skill for someone working with Information Technology, whether in a Help Desk or otherwise. There are options you have to improve the performance of the devices on a network as well as improve networks themselves, even your personal devices and a network you rely on at home or elsewhere.

This module covers some general information about wired and wireless networks that will build over the weeks until you plan for, install, and configure a Small Office Home Office (SOHO) network in week 4. Once you’ve done that, you may consider how to make your own home network more efficient with your new knowledge and skills.

Framing Problem

Students will work throughout the module to ultimately install and configure a SOHO (Small Office Home Office) network in week 4. They should capture decision points for their network solutions during the first three weeks, practicing relevant skills they will apply in week 4.

Cornerstone Assessment

Use networking tools safely to connect common hardware devices necessary for a wired network, including identifying and using appropriate cables and connecting to an appropriate Ethernet NIC. (Students are encouraged to create a wireless network in the final project for the module.)

DPI Standards

  • NCCTE.2020.II21.02.07 - Compare Internet connection types, network types, and their features.
  • NCCTE.2020.II21.02.08 - Use appropriate networking tools.
  • NCCTE.2020.II21.03.01 - Explain basic cable types, features, and their purposes.
  • NCCTE.2020.II21.03.02 - Identify common connectory types.
  • NCCTE.2020.II21.03.04 - Select, install and configure storage devices.

A+ Standards

TOPIC 8A: Wired Networks

1001-2.7 Compare and contrast Internet connection types, network types, and their features.
1001-2.8 Given a scenario, use appropriate networking tools.
1001-3.1 Explain basic cable types, features, and their purposes.

TOPIC 8B: Network Hardware Devices

1001-2.2 Compare and contrast common networking hardware devices.

TOPIC 8C: Wireless Networks

1001-2.2 Compare and contrast common networking hardware devices.
1001-2.4 Compare and contrast wireless networking protocols.
1001-2.7 Compare and contrast Internet connection types, network types, and their features.


  • Different types of networks
  • The difference between Local Area Networks (LANs) and Wide Area Networks (WANs)
  • Ethernet types and standards
  • Potential configurations for a SOHO network
  • Types and data rates for different categories of network cables and acceptable uses and limitations for each
  • Considerations for troubleshooting a cabled network link
  • Identify the following types of network devices and describe their functions and capabilities: network adapters, Internet modems, switches, and routers
  • Features of an Ethernet NIC
  • How legacy networking devices like hubs, repeaters, and bridges function in a network
  • The features and uses of switches, including avoiding contention in collision domains
  • The uses and differences between managed and unmanaged switches
  • How and why Power over Ethernet or Ethernet over Power options might be used
  • The relationship between frequency, power, range, and bandwidth in wireless networks
  • By memory, the five 802.11 Wi-Fi standards, transfer rates, and bands
  • The difference between 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz frequency bands


  • Recognize network types and appropriate cabling options for them
  • Recognize and describe the different categories of cabling, acceptable uses and the data rates they support
  • Label ports and cables in patch panels
  • Use various networking tools safely to fix common network issues
  • Describe the functions and capabilities if network adapters, Internet modems, switches, and routers
  • Identify the components of an Ethernet NIC
  • Determine whether Power over Ethernet or Ethernet over Power options might be necessary in a SOHO network



  • Local Area Networks (LANs)
    • Campus Area Network (CAN)
  • Wide Area Networks (WANs)

Ethernet (10 Mbps/10BASE, Fast Ethernet/100BASE, Gigabit Ethernet/1000BASE, 10G Ethernet/10GBASE)

  • IEEE 802.11 series of standards (Wi-Fi)

SOHO (Small Office Home Office)

  • Access point
  • Ethernet switch
  • Internet modem
  • Internet router

Enterprise Network Architecture

  • SME (Small and Medium Sized Enterprise)
  • Enterprise LAN

Twisted Pair Cabling and Connectors

  • Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP)
  • CAT Standards (5, 5e, 6, 6, 6A)
  • Shielded Twisted Pair (STP) (F/UTP, U/FTP)
  • Plenum cable

Wiring Standards for Twisted Pair Cabling

  • RJ-45 (8P8C)

T568A and T568B terminating connectors

  • Crossover cable

Drop Cables

Structured Cabling System

Cable Installation and Testing Tools

  • Wire Stripper/Cutter
  • Punch-Down Tool
  • Crimper

Cable Testing Tools

  • Multimeter
  • Cable Tester
  • Tone Generator and Probe (“Fox and Hound,” or toner and probe)
  • Loopback Plugs

Fiber Optic Cabling and Connectors

  • Single-Mode Fiber (SMF)
  • Multi-Mode Fiber (MMF)
  • Straight Tip (ST) connector
  • Subscriber Connector (SC)
  • Local Connector (LC)

Coaxial (coax) Cable (RG-6, RG-59)

See also:


Access Points (addressed under wireless networks)

Cloud-based Network Controller

  • Software Defined Networking (SDN)


  • Network firewall versus Host firewall
  • Packet filtering
  • Access Control LIst (ACL)

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) (addressed in week 2 of this unit)

  • DSL Access Multiplier (SDLAM)
  • PPP over ATM (PPPoA)
  • PPP over Ethernet (PPPoE)
  • Asymmetrical DSL (ADSL)
  • Symmetric DSL
  • Very High Bitrate DSL (VDSL)

Network Interface Card (NIC)

  • Frames
    • Preamble Sequence
    • Destination Address
    • Source Address
    • Payload: network packet, encapsulation
    • Checksum (Error Checking)
  • Media Access Control (MAC)

Legacy Networking Devices

  • Hub (Multiport Repeater)
  • Repeater
  • Bridge
    • Contention
    • Collision Domain


  • Microsegmentation
  • Half-Duplex Mode

Unmanaged Switch

Managed Switch

Power over Ethernet (PoE)

  • 802.3af
  • 802.3at (PoE+)
  • Power Sourcing Equipment (PSE)
  • Power Injector

Ethernet over Power

Wi-Fi (Wireless LAN) Standards, transfer rates, bands

  • Frequency
  • Range
  • Channel

Access Points and Wireless Network Modes

  • Infrastructure Mode
  • Access Point (AP)
  • Basic Service Set Identifier (BSSID)
  • Extended Service Set (ESS)
  • Range Extender
  • Wireless Mesh Network (WMN)
  • Personal Area Network (PAN)

Weekly Map


Introduction to problem: Preparing to configure a SOHO Network by exploring common hardware devices and tools

Online Pre-assessment  (available for student practice, as well)

Team meetings to develop project plan and goals


Review content resources with whole group

Small group and independent exploration of resources: Wired Networks and Discussion Activity 8-1

Contribute to team project


Hands-on exploration: Using Networking Hardware, Cabling, and Tools

Small group and independent exploration of resources: Network Hardware Devices and Discussion Activity 8-2

Team progress check with supervisor (using project plan)


Hands-on exploration: Ethernet NIC

Small group and independent exploration of resources: Wireless Networks and Discussion Activity 8-3

Contribute to team project


Team sharing of progress with whole group

Online post-assessment

Monitor progress and adjust project plan as necessary

Lesson Ideas

While time should be provided for exploring the general concepts about common hardware devices, the focus during the week is on providing hands-on experiences with those devices and common networking tools so students can develop skills for the safe and accurate use of those tools to configure devices correctly. It may be rare for school-based IT departments to allow students to actually interact with a campus network, but students can still practice using the tools to learn how to use them. Some IT Departments may be available to provide a tour of devices on their network and to chat with network technicians, whether in person or online. Encourage students to capture what they learn about hardware and tools in the Help Desk Knowledge Base.

If you do not have time to install or review the settings of an existing Network Interface Card (NIC), there is time later in the unit that students can do so.

Students are introduced to general wireless network concepts and will explore wireless networks in greater detail later. They should understand and be able to explain the relationship between frequency, power, range, and bandwidth in wireless networks and should memorise the five 802.11 Wi-Fir standards, their transfer rates, and bands. Students are encouraged to create a wireless SOHO network in the final project.

Potential Resources

The Official CompTIA A+ Core 1 & Core 2 Instructor Guide for Exams 220-1001 and 220-1002

  • Topic 8A: Wired Networks (480-495)
    • Activity 8-1: Discussing Wired Networks (496-497)
  • Topic 8B: Network Hardware Devices (498-505)
    • Activity 8-2: Discussing Network Hardware Devices (506-507)
  • Topic 8C: Wireless Networks (508-512)
    • Activity 8-3: Wireless Networks (513)

CompTIA also offers videos for purchase through their website or on ITPro.TV.

Professor Messer at and YouTube offers numerous free videos of various lengths for many of the topics for the CompTIA 220-1001 A+ Exam. They are easy to understand, narrated videos with visuals. If you are teaching a CompTIA course, the site notes “You’re welcome to use them as much as you’d like, provided you embed the videos with the associated YouTube link or link directly to my site. Please click the “Contact Us” link at the top of our web page and let me know how you’re using them.”

Entry Level I.T. Training from Technology Gee

Khan Academy

PowerCert Animated Videos on YouTube

Cloudflare, a global networking company, provides a wealth of information on topics related to networks in it’s Learning Center. Consider these and explore others

Networking Tutorials from Lantronix, a global provider of Software as a Service, connectivity, engineering, and IotT services. Some, but minimal, product promotion may appear in this resource.

Tutorials from Cisco:

Ethernet Standards and protocols Explained on ComputerNetworkingNotes

Articles and Other Resources

Ethernet NIC

Network Interface Cards Explained by Bradley Mitchell for Lifeire

NIC. Short article from Computer Hope

What is a Network Interface Card – NIC Definition, Function & Types from FS, a global high-speed communications company

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the NIC an dEthernet port on a Dell PC

Network devices: adapters, modems, switches and routers

Difference Between Modem, Router, and Switch Explained by Sam Chen for Gear Primer

Ethernet Switch vs. Router: How to Choose from CDW

Modem, Router, and Access Point: What’s the Difference? By Whitson Gordon for PC Magazine

Switch vs Router vs Modem: What is the difference? From

The Differences Between routers, Switches, and Hubs by Bradley Mitchell for Lifewire

Hubs, repeaters, and bridges

Most Commonly Used Networking Devices (Hubs, Repeaters and Bridges) by Aric for Electronics guide4u

What’s the Difference Between Hubs, Switches & Bridges from Global Knowledge with links to further information.

Managed and unmanaged switches

Managed Switches Versus Unmanaged Switches from Cisco

Managed vs. Unmanaged Switches: Are

Network Switch: Managed vs Unmanaged by Gary McCauley for Field Engineer. Some, but minimal, product promotion may appear in this resource.

Power over Ethernet and Ethernet over Power

Power over Ethernet overview with clear descriptions and images by Intellinet Network Solutions, a networking company

What is Power over Ethernet (PoE)? From Cisco

Is Wi-Fi too unreliable? Powerline networking may be what you need. Article about Ethernet over Power by Tyler lacoma for digitaltrends. Contains ads at the end.

Wi-Fi standards

The Most Common Wi-Fi Standards and Types, Explained by Gavin Phillips for MUO

802.11 Standards Explained: 802.11ax, 802.11ac, 802.11b/g/n, 802.11a by Bradley Mitchell for Lifewire. This article goes beyond the five 802.11 standards listed in the Official A+ Guide.

Difference between 2.4 Ghz and 5.0 Ghz frequency bands

5 GHz Wi-Fi Isn’t Always Better than 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi by Chris Hoffman for How-To Geek

The difference between 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz WiFi from CenturyLink, a telecommunications company