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Regardless of what specialty you are involved with in the IT field, sooner or later you will have to deal with some networking issue. Therefore, it is advantageous for all IT professionals to have a basic understanding of networking concepts, even those whose job roles by definition don't generally involve networks. Familiarity with TCP/IP, Ethernet, as well as fiber optics can be a major plus. CIOs understand the advantage of having software or hardware technicians who have a clear understanding of how their products will be utilized over the network and how different configurations will affect their performance.
This follows an ongoing trend of corporations wanting more from their employees. As with other departments as well, job roles within the IT field are blurring. Companies are expecting more of their employees and are demanding greater interaction between business divisions. As a result, there are fewer strictly segregated roles and less pigeonholing in terms of job responsibilities.