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A routing bridge is a device used in computer networking that allows two or more networks to be connected to each other and communicate. This type of device is often used with a system that includes multiple networks, allowing each one to connect and users on those systems can then interact seamlessly. They can also be used to allow different types of networks to link together; a system with a bridge can connect to a wireless access point and then provide access to it through physical connections. A routing bridge should not be confused with a bridge router, however, which is a device that functions as both a bridge and a router.
Also called an "RBridge," a routing bridge is typically used to allow two or more networks to connect and communicate with each other. These bridges are not used to create a network, and do not deal with the networking layer of data and communications. This means that a routing bridge is not used to set up a simple Local Area Network (LAN), since networking is not handled properly by the device. Functions required at the network layer, such as the assignment and tracking of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, are not typically possible through such a bridge.
One common way in which a routing bridge can be used is to connect wired and wireless networks together. Several computers, for example, may be part of a physical network in which they are connected together to share data with each other. These computers can then be connected physically to a routing bridge that is able to connect to a wireless network through a local wireless access point. This bridge allows users at those computers to effectively connect to the wireless network, accessing other systems and computers on it, even though each machine may not individually be able to access a wireless system.
A routing bridge should not be confused with a bridge router, or "BRouter," however, since they are quite different. Bridge routers are devices that are designed to function as both a bridge and a router, allowing a computer user to access the benefits and strengths of each of them. Through the use of a bridge router, a computer can be part of a local network, while also connecting to other systems. Older technology typically required that multiple devices would be used for both of these functions. A single bridge router, however, can access numerous networks and provide necessary network-level protocols and identifiers.