Collision & Broadcast Domains: Definition & Difference

Instructor: David Gloag

David has over 40 years of industry experience in software development and information technology and a bachelor of computer science

In this lesson, we'll take a look at networks, define collision domain and broadcast domain and see how each of these works. At the end, you should have a good understanding of this prevalent technology.

People Like to Connect

We live in an interconnected world. If you don't agree, just think about some of your day-to-day activities. We conduct business transactions with colleagues and vendors through email, we surf the web for information and entertainment that interest us, and we use our smartphones to text our friends about things that are important to us. Clearly, these connections form a significant part of our lives. You may not realize it, but there is a common technology at work here. This technology forms the basis for these interactions and many more just like them. It is called a network.

What is a Network?

A network is a set of interconnected computers whose purpose is to send and receive information from each other and to share resources like file servers and printers. You've likely used a network, perhaps at school, work, or even within your home. Networks provide an information connection to the Internet and the outside world.

If you work with networks for any length of time, you will come across a few related terms that are worth defining:

  • The LAN or local area network is a set of networked computers that occupy a relatively small space, like an office or a building. It isn't uncommon for a large office building that contains several businesses to have several LANs within it.
  • A Domain is a subset of LANs where the computers are thought of and administered as a single entity. For example, businesses often have at least two domains, a production domain where the daily use, high availability machines and software reside, and a sandbox domain where the experimental machines and software reside.
  • A Hub is an interconnection device that facilitates communication between network computers. It is a very simple device where any information that comes in on one port is transmitted out on all of the others.
  • A Switch is another network interconnection device. It monitors the information it receives and only sends it out on the port connected to the intended destination. This makes it more efficient than a hub.
  • A Router is also a network interconnection device. It is similar to a switch in most respects. The biggest difference is that it is smarter than a switch and also has the ability to manipulate the information as it flows through.

Collision Domains

A collision domain is a domain where the information sent from one device could collide with the information sent out from another. This occurs when the interconnection point for the network is a hub. Since information from only one computer can pass through a hub at a time, there is the possibility for the information to collide. For example, say you have three people that want to leave a room with only one door. If they leave at different times everything is fine. They simply walk through the door. But if they all leave at the same time, a collision may occur.

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