Ethernet is a fast and cost-effective LAN technology. It was first developed in 1972 by Bob Metcalfe and D.R. Boggs. The ethernet technology helps to connect devices within a distance of 10 km by using fiber optic cables. It can support speeds of up to 10Mbps. For setting up Ethernet, a network interface card (NIC) is installed in each computer and assigned a unique address. Ethernet cable runs from the NIC to the central switch and hub which acts as relay for connecting ethernet. Ethernet can also be wireless in which wireless NICs are used instead of ethernet cables for connectivity. Wireless ethernet is more useful but it also needs greater maintenance and upkeep.

To connect an ethernet cable to a computer, you need to plug the cable directly into the ethernet port. If the computer or device does not have a ethernet port, then you can connect using dongles or USB-to-ethernet adapters.

Types of Ethernet

The different types of ethernet networks are discussed below:

Fast Ethernet

Fast Ethernet can transfer data at speeds of up to 100Mbps by using a twisted-pair fiber optic cable. In some cases, the old 10Mbps ethernet is also used but it has limited uses as it lacks the bandwidth for heavier applications. Fast ethernet comes in two variants-100Base-T and 100Base-FX. The 100Base-T variant is more widely used and makes use of the twisted-pair fiber optic cable for ethernet connection.

Gigabit Ethernet

Gigabit ethernet is advanced and fast speed ethernet which is capable of transferring data with speeds up to 1Gbps. It makes use of twisted-pair optic fiber and is very popular due to fast transfer speeds. Gigabit Ethernet uses special type of optical fiber cable known as Cat 5e cable. This cable makes use of all the four twisted cables to achieve high data speeds. The latest generation ethernet is 10-gigabit ethernet which is capable of transferring data with speeds up to 10gbps. If you plan to transfer data over longer distances, then you need to use the 1000BASE-SX or 1000BASE-LX cables. Though the 10-gigabit ethernet is extremely fast and efficient, its cost is the major limiting factor for its widespread and large scale adoption.

Switch Ethernet

Switch ethernet is used for connecting multiple network devices on a LAN and it requires switch and hub. Switch ethernet makes use of a regular network cable instead of crossover cables. The key function of a network switch is to forward data from one device to another on the same network.