Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) network architecture | Practonet

Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) network architecture

We all know about design choices and terms for an enterprise LAN, In this section we will learn about one particular type of smaller LAN: the small office/home office (SOHO) LAN. SOHO refers to designs and implementations that have such a small volume of requirements—few switch ports, few APs, few routers and WAN links—that the design differs significantly. The term itself refers to the two most common cases: a user who works from home or a small office with a small number of workers and devices. This next short topic points out a few of the highlights that make a SOHO network different from an enterprise network.

First, as a reminder, the IEEE defines both Ethernet LANs and wireless LANs (WLANs). In case it was not obvious yet, all Ethernet standards use cables—that is, Ethernet defines wired LANs. The IEEE 802.11 working group defines wireless LANs, also called Wi-Fi per a trademarked term from the Wi-Fi Alliance (, a consortium that helps encourage wireless LAN development in the marketplace. Most of you have used Wi-Fi, and may use it daily. Some of you may have set it up at home, with a basic setup as shown in Figure. In a home, you probably used a single consumer device called a wireless router. One side of the device connects to the Internet, while the other side connects to the devices in the home. In the home, the devices can connect either with Wi-Fi or with a wired Ethernet cable.

Breaking out the internal components as if they were separate physical devices, just to make the point that a single consumer wireless router acts like several different devices. In a SOHO wireless LAN, the wireless AP acts autonomously, rather than with a WLC, doing all the work required to create and control the WLAN. In other words, the autonomous AP communicates with the various wireless devices using 802.11 protocols and radio waves. It uses Ethernet protocols on the wired side. It converts between the differences in header formats between 802.11 and 802.3 frames before forwarding to/from 802.3 Ethernet and 802.11 wireless frames. But it does not encapsulate frames in CAPWAP, because the AP will not send the frames to a WLC.

For the Internet connection, the router (combo) device connects with any available Internet access technology, including cable Internet, DSL, 4G/5G wireless, or fiber Ethernet.