In terms of networks, a gateway is a single node on a network that serves as an entrance to another network. For enterprises, a gateway is an individual computer that is responsible for routing traffic from a workstation to an outside network that serves web pages. This node acts as both a proxy server (a system that is the intermediary for client requests seeking resources from other servers) and a firewall (which aids in keeping a network secure). This enterprise gateway is associated with a router, which uses headers and forwarding tables to determine where network communications (called packets) are sent. Gateways are also associated with a switch, the mechanism that provides the pathway for data and communications leaving the gateway and entering a new network.

For homes, a gateway is the ISP that connects the user to the internet. Home gateways, important to small-scale users who have no need of enterprise-level networks, aid users in connecting with broadband or DSL services, sharing internet connection, and maintaining firewall security.

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