A router is usually a communication device that forwarding data packets between different computer networks. It performs the traffic defining functions on the Internet. A packet is in most cases forwarded from a single router to another router over the networks, which constitute an intranet (e.g. the Internet). Once the packet reaches its intended destination, the router will calculate the next hop and transmit the packet in the form of an IP packet to the destination.
There are different types of routers and each performs a specific function. The two most popular types of routers are the Wireless Routers and the Coaxial Routers. In a traditional set up, the Internet service provider or the LAN service providers set up the physical hardware and afterwards they configure the software that controls the operation of the routers. They also assign the MAC address of each computer on the network and then associate the same with the WAP (wireless application protocol) that they have deployed. This set-up works perfectly fine in a small network where each computer serves only one purpose and the physical equipment can be managed easily.
On the other hand, this set-up is not practical for larger networks because the physical equipment would consume too much resources and the cost would increase drastically. Also, if the number of users increases the geographical area can be explored but it would become very difficult to manage the network using only one router. Also, the physical equipment needs periodic maintenance and you cannot predict when the routers might stop functioning for no apparent reason. Hence, multiple routers are required for large computer networking applications. In order to manage the large network effectively, you require a system that combines the capabilities of both the wired and the wireless routers.
A router is basically a piece of hardware which facilitates communications between different computers on a local network by creating a Local Area Network (LAN). In a very simple analogy, it is like a telephone directory in which every telephone number is stored in a separate directory on a particular rack. On the other hand, in a LAN the routers enable people to connect to each other using any of their numbers. Similarly, in many cases the routers are also the central control center that allows a single connection to be handled by many computers.
The most popular form of routers and switches are called ATM or Automatic Message Switches (AMS). These types of switches and routers are commonly used for IP networks where multiple sets of IP addresses must be administered over a single IP address. There is another type of switch known as bridged mode, which is used to introduce bridged mode traffic onto the local network. In other words, a bridged mode router allows you to create a local area network, which may contain different connections to the internet. The two main types of switches used for IP networks are the LSI or Link State Switched Equipment (LSI) and the ISSI or Integrated Services Supplement (ISSI) technology.
A router performs the important function of forwarding the packets of data from its source to its destination in a process known as hop-by-hop. This process is not visible to the application at the receiving end. To understand how a router works you need to understand how packet loss and jitter affect the forwarding process. To make the most of your network, a comprehensive study of how a router works is highly recommended.