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Join Date: May 2008
Gateways work on all seven OSI layers. The main job of a gateway is to convert protocols among communications networks. A router by itself transfers, accepts and relays packets only across networks using similar protocols. A gateway on the other hand can accept a packet formatted for one protocol (e.g. AppleTalk) and convert it to a packet formatted for another protocol (e.g. TCP/IP) before forwarding it. A gateway can be implemented in hardware, software or both, but they are usually implemented by software installed within a router. A gateway must understand the protocols used by each network linked into the router. Gateways are slower than bridges, switches and (non-gateway) routers.
A gateway is a network point that acts as an entrance to another network. On the Internet, a node or stopping point can be either a gateway node or a host (end-point) node. Both the computers of Internet users and the computers that serve pages to users are host nodes, while the nodes that connect the networks in between are gateways. For example, the computers that control traffic between company networks or the computers used by internet service providers (ISPs) to connect users to the internet are gateway nodes.