The year was 2008. The world had become entranced by a device called the iPhone just a year before, and consumers were just starting to embrace the mobile web. Tablets were clunky, Windows XP powered devices that had stylus-based interfaces and were a chore to use. Blackberry was still king of the smartphones. The cloud was still on the horizon, and broadband speeds were an unreliable affair. This is the world of just 4 years ago.
A typical home computer network hardware setup consisted of a primary PC connected either directly to a broadband modem, or through a wired router. If the family had multiple computers, these would be connected through the router, or in more technologically literate households, through a wireless network. The primary method of accessing the web was through a desktop PC or a notebook. Gaming consoles began being wired to the network, and many devices were usually cluttered around the router, causing a tangled mess of wires and more than a few blown fuses.
Most homes didn't need more than a basic modem and 4 or 5-port router or 10/100MB switch, and category 5 or 5e ethernet cables. If a wireless router was used, typical setups included an 802.11g devices. At that time, more bandwidth than that simply wasn't required for normal use, such as email, web browsing, or the occasional YouTube video. Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services were taking off, but not yet to the extent they are today, and HD penetration was nowhere near current levels.
A comparison between the types of internet connections, such as cable, DSL, and satellite, can be found in our guide to ISPs and Internet Technology.
On the business side, desktop PCs also reigned king in most offices and were connected through a much more elaborate wired network. Switches, routers, and hubs packed utility closets out from which flowed highways and byways of ethernet cable. Many businesses also had wireless networking setups for the more mobile employees that connected through their notebook or synced emails and contacts with their Blackberry. Gigabit ethernet was common by this time in most mid to large companies, and connected servers and computers through category 6 or 7 cabling.