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What is Ethernet
by John Anthony


Ethernet is the most widely-installed local area network (LAN) technology.

PCs, routers, modems, printers and other devices use the Ethernet protocol to communicate with each other.

Ethernet data transfer rates have been increased from the original 2.94 megabits per second (Mbit/s) to the current 100 gigabits per second (Gbit/s)

A number of connection protocols have been used for Ethernet.
  • 10base2 (thin coax) carried data about 185 meters before a repeater was needed.
  • 10base5 (thick coax) could carry data a maximum of 500 meters without a repeater.
  • 10baseT (twisted pair cable) appeared later and carried data 100 meters without a repeater. It is the most widely deployed cabling system used to connect devices together.
Ethernet in the Internet
The Internet is made up of millions of PCs and other equipment connected together in thousands of dispersed LANs of varying sizes.
The LANs pass data to each other through banks of switches and routers (very specialized switches) that are operated by communications companies and organizations around the globe.

If you work in an office, 10baseT Ethernet is probably the way all your local PCs, printers and other equipment is connected together.

Ethernet is carried in 8-pin cables with an RJ-45 connector at each end and is used to connect devices together.

The speed of Ethernet keeps getting faster
  • 100baseT or Fast Ethernet (100 million bits per second) is widely deployed in LAN backbones. Backbones are high speed data paths that are fed by many slower speed data streams of 10baseT data.

  • Eventually as more and more data comes together, 1000baseX or GB Ethernet (1 billion bits per second) is used to carry a tremendous amount of extremely fast moving data.

  • This data keeps getting merged together into higher speed data streams, called Optical Carriers, which use fiber optic cable to carry data.

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