Installing a SOHO Network – CompTIA A+ 220-1001 – 2.3

The installation of a small office/home office network goes well beyond plug-and-play. In this video, you’ll learn some of the detailed configuration settings required when configuring a SOHO network.

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If you work in a large corporation, you probably have a data center, and that data center has many racks of equipment. You have routers and switches and firewalls and intrusion prevention systems and many other components that make up your networking infrastructure. But if you’re in a small office, home office, that’s a SOHO, you don’t have room for all of these devices.

And a lot of this functionality can be collapsed down into one single device, and that would be the SOHO router. This is the SOHO router that I use for my studio, and you can see it’s a single device. But there’s a lot of functionality inside of this one device. It connects to my Comcast cable modem network.

There’s connectivity on the back for Ethernet. There’s also connectivity on the back for telephones. All of these interfaces on the back are switched. There’s a firewall inside of this.

There’s a wireless access point. And so a lot of functions are inside of this single all-in-one device. Your SOHO router is going to have routing functionality that connects the outside world– usually, over a DSL connection or a cable modem connection. And this is what’s going to allow you to route between your internal private network and the external internet network.

SOHO routers also very commonly have a switch built in to them. This one has four individual interfaces. It’s a single VLAN, and you have four devices that you can plug in with an Ethernet cable.

One of the advantages behind the design of these SOHO routers is there’s not a lot to configure. This is automatically going to perform network address translation between your WAN ports and your LAN ports. And that network address translation is all configured automatically. You simply need to plug in the connections, power up the router, and you’ll have connectivity to the internet.

Many SOHO routers also include wireless access point functionality, along with the switching, and the routing that it’s already doing. And of course, you can configure many aspects of that wireless configuration. One of those is that you can configure which frequencies you’d like to use. You can, of course, configure which bands you’d like to communicate on, whether it’s 2.4 GHz and/or 5 GHz.

You can also define the SSID name you’d like to use. This would be the name of the wireless network that appears in the list of available networks when you connect. You get to choose the security mode over the wireless network, which is how the data will be protected as it goes through the air. Normally, the WPA2 encryption is a good choice. And many wireless routers allow you to set a shared key that everyone will use, or you can configure an enterprise configuration where every user will put in their own user name and password to gain access to the wireless network.

And finally, you can decide what channel or set of channels you would like to use for this particular access point to provide that connectivity for your wireless devices. Both the wide area network connection and your local area connections on that SOHO router need to have IP addresses assigned to them. When you first connect the wide area network connection, you’ll usually get the IP address assigned automatically through DHCP directly from your internet service provider. Some service providers also require that you add authentication into the router’s configuration before it’s able to be used on the network.

For the inside of the network, the SOHO router is usually a DHCP server itself. So you’ll simply plug in any device into the SOHO router, and it will automatically get an internal IP address. These IP addresses are defined on the SOHO router itself.

My internal studio addresses, for example, have a network. You can see the dot one is my gateway address, then I have a DHCP range that starts at dot two and ends at dot 50. So anytime I plug in a device to my network, my SOHO router’s automatically going to sign an IP address from that available pool.

DNS servers are also important to have in your configuration. These are passed to the clients during the DHCP process. If you leave these blank on my router, it uses the same DNS configuration that’s on the wide area network connection. If you have your own internal DNS servers or you would like to use other DNS configurations, you can add them into the configuration here.

If you’re plugging a wired Ethernet device into the back of your SOHO router, it’s probably set to auto-negotiate its speed and duplex. But of course, you can configure those manually on the devices that you’re connecting. Usually, it’s going to automatically define what speed you’ll be using, whether it’s 10, 100, or 1000 megabits per second, and it will decide what duplex it needs to configure– either half duplex or preferably full duplex.

If you’re connecting a device over the wireless network, then, obviously, you’ll need to enable or disable that wireless adapter. And then usually your wireless network needs to be selected from a list. And you’ll need to provide a password to gain access.

Different operating systems have different ways to set these configurations, but the names of these different options should be similar across different operating systems. For example, in Mac OS, you can see there’s an option to configure IP version 4, either automatically using DHCP, or you have an option to choose manual. And then you can add the IP addresses into your configuration by hand. The easiest configuration though, is to use DHCP– so the IP address, subnet mask router, and DNS information will all be populated on my device from the configurations that we’ve made on our SOHO router.

One set of devices that has become rather important in our small offices and home offices are the IoT devices. These are the Internet of Things devices. These are usually focused around home automation, and they’re usually connecting to your network using 802.11 wireless connectivity.

These would be your thermostats, your light switches, security cameras, door locks, and anything else that talks out to the internet so that you can gain access to these devices using your mobile phone. From a configuration perspective on your SOHO router, there’s not much that needs to be done. These devices will automatically communicate outbound, which makes it very easy for you then to connect to a central server to gain access to these Internet of Things devices.