In practice, local area networks are not really thought of in terms of protocol layers but by what is called LAN architecture or network architecture. (Sometimes a network architecture is referred to as a LAN type or a LAN topology.) A network architecture, such as ethernet, provides a bundle of specifications governing media access, physical addressing, and the interaction of the computers with the transmission medium. When you decide on a network architecture, you are in effect deciding on a design for the Network Access layer.
A network architecture is a design for the physical network and a collection of specifications defining communications on that physical network. The communication details are dependent on the physical details, so the specifications usually come together as a complete package. These specifications include considerations such as the following:
Details such as cable type and connector type are not the direct responsibility of the Network Access layer, but to design the software components of the Network Access layer, developers must assume a specific set of characteristics for the physical network. Thus, the network access software must come with a specific hardware design.