There will be many of mature age for whom the typewriter, the fountain pen, the telegram and the old-fashioned pulse-dialling telephone still hold fond memories. By contrast, a significant number of young adults will be largely unfamiliar with most of these less hi-tech methods of communication. Today, thanks to digital technology, not only do most households have at least one laptop or tablet and a couple of smartphones but, thanks to the knowledge and skills of networking specialists, practically all of our businesses and most of our homes have become interconnected. The Internet now provides a planet-wide system that allows us to engage with one another, and to access and share information at near-instantaneous speeds.

While we may still receive the occasional official letter, marketing flyers or greeting cards and most of the written materials addressed to us is delivered via email or through online applications such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. The fact that we can receive these on a PC when seated at an office desk or in the comfort of an armchair at home is a testament to the achievements of networking specialists around the world.

To provide the required interconnection between various digital devices, there are currently two options. The first is to provide a physical connection with the aid of a suitable cable. Alternatively, one can dispense with the cables and, instead, rely on wireless transmissions to perform the necessary connections. In each case, some assistance from a networking specialist will frequently prove essential.

This, of course, will depend on the size and complexity of the installation. While the Internet is a worldwide comms network to which homes and offices, for a variety of reasons, will often need to connect, there is also a need for users to maintain a degree of privacy. Within a home or a self-contained business, this can be achieved with a local area network (LAN) or intranet and, in the case of a wired system, there are many different ways in which to arrange the connections, each of which has its particular performance characteristics and preferred applications.

The layout or so-called topology of a system is one of the crucial areas of expertise of networking specialists and can, for example, be designed to ensure that LAN users can continue to work efficiently despite an unexpected component failure. For a company that consists of multiple branches, there is often a need to connect each of their LANs to form a wide area network (WAN) or extranet. In this case, also, some specialised help will be necessary to prevent any possible security issues that could leave confidential company data vulnerable to attack by hackers.

At the moment, in light of the coronavirus pandemic, more people than ever have now become reliant on the Internet. Given that our shops are closing their doors in a nationwide lockdown aimed at containment, networking specialists must continue to labour, behind the scenes, to maintain a system that has become just as important to online shopping for essentials as it is for keeping in touch with our families and friends. It is also an invaluable channel through which medical experts can provide citizens with up-to-date information and advice that could save their lives.

It is no longer just servers, computers and printers that are connected to the Internet. Many networking specialists are now engaged in servicing the Internet of Things (IoT) as the nation’s industries and even our homes are becoming ever-more automated.

From washing machines that can download new programmed cycles and fridges that can order food when stocks run low, to machinery such as 3D printers that can download new design templates and order the relevant feedstocks, the IoT is yet another way in which skilled networking specialists such as CCI Technology Solutions are transforming our society and our lifestyles.