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What Is a Backbone Network?

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Have you ever wondered how large organizations like campuses, offices, and so on can communicate with each other securely and effectively? Sometimes, they can communicate with each other even when they have many locations. The simple answer to this question is that they have a backbone network. But what is a backbone network? 

Quick Answer

A backbone or core network is a computer network component that connects multiple networks, allowing data to be sent and received efficiently. You can use a backbone network to link numerous LANs resulting in a WAN or MAN. 

With the help of a backbone network, long-distance communication is achievable on a massive scale. The capacity of a backbone often exceeds that of the networks it supports. This article explains more about what a backbone network is. 

What Are the Types of Backbone Networks? 

A backbone network consists of different segments of routers, bridges, cabling, and gateways. Note that individual nodes don’t connect to the backbone directly. However, individual nodes connect via ISPs, LAN, or more extensive organization infrastructures. Different networks can be integrated with the backbone technology. The network that integrates with the backbone technology determines the type of backbone network it will be.

So, there are essentially four types of backbone networks.

Distributed Backbone 

This type of network has several connectivity devices on its main, such as a router. In this type of topology, there isn’t much room for growth or simple expansion because there are more layers of devices you can add to the layers. 

Another thing to note in a distributed backbone network is that all its devices share the same transmission media. Hence, every device on a distributed backbone network shares all transmission placed on that network. In all practicality, a distributed backbone network uses all large-scale networks. For example, enterprise applications are confined to a single building as certain connectivity devices can be assigned to certain departments or floors. 

Collapsed Backbone 

This is another important backbone network popularly referred to as the inverted backbone. This backbone network spans a distance that provides interconnectivity over different locations. Most times, this network is linked while the routing or switching functions are achievable by the equipment in each location. Each location in a collapsed backbone network has a link back to the central location. So, it is possible that a collapsed backbone network can be a cluster of a single switch or router

Collapsed routers have several advantages, such as ease of management and high-performance technology or proprietary. While the advantages of the collapsed network are great, it comes with drawbacks, such as when the central location’s downtime reachability is a problem. 

Parallel Backbone 

The parallel backbone network is not the most common but is quite useful. The parallel backbone network is often used by enterprises and organizations looking for a trustworthy and strong backbone network. The parallel backbone network is a variation of the collapsed backbone network that uses a central node. 

Also, note that the parallel backbone network node uses duplicated connections when there is more than one switch or router. A major factor determining if an enterprise should use a parallel backbone network is if the expense for its efficiency is compensated with fault tolerance and increased performance. 

Serial Backbone 

Finally, a serial backbone network is another type of backbone network that is more like the simplest form of the backbone network. A serial backbone network comprises two or more internet working devices connected by a single cable

In other words, a serial backbone network is held together in a daisy-chain fashion. The reason hubs are connected this way is to extend the network. Sadly, hubs are not the only device connected to a serial backbone. Devices like switches, routers, bridges, and gateways commonly form part of the backbone. Hence, the serial backbone topology is used for enterprise networks, even though it is rarely used for this purpose.  


A serial backbone network is more suited for a small network setup. In contrast, a distributed backbone network is ideal for enterprises as expanding, and troubleshooting is as simple as adding and managing layers of the network.


As you can see from this guide, a backbone network is an important aspect of a data communication system. With the help of the right backbone network, one can improve reliability and capacity and even save costs. So, a backbone network is handy, whether you are a large enterprise or a small group. 

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