Networking hardware, also network hardware or network equipment, includes all components of a computer network that allow the network to operate, i.e. to transmit data. In other words, computer networks are built out of networking hardware.
Thus, by the piece of networking hardware we understand any part of a computer network, that is:
- devices that are actively involved in running the network called active networking hardware
- components that connect active networking elements - ensure their physical connection, referred to as passive networking hardware
In practice, in order to build a wireless network using a laptop and a phone for instance (so we can talk about network, there must be a communication between at least 2 devices), we need at least 3 pieces of networking hardware: wi-fi router that controls the network and 2 Network Interface Controller (NIC) network interface cards} - one in the notebook and the other in the phone. Let’s take another example. The cable network needs at least 4 pieces of networking hardware - router, data cable and 2 network interface cards on 2 computers connected by this cable.