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Basics of Ethernet

Prashant Magar
Ethernet is a standard application used for linking computers in a Local Area Network (LAN).
Ethernet has an amazing data handling speed and is the most commonly used networking protocol worldwide. From an initial 2.9 Mbits/s it has been increased to around 400 Gbits/s. If you have to communicate, you use a local dialect to convey your message. The language you use has certain words, expressions, or your own set of jargons for you and your group.
Similarly, computers on a local network have a standard set of communication and tools that foster exchange of information. This standard is in use for many local area applications worldwide, which we refer to as Ethernet protocol.
Ethernet was originally developed by Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) in 1972. Later on, it was jointly developed by Digital Equipment Corporation, Intel, and Xerox in 1980.


This network technology comprises of many nodes, hubs, switches, bridges, routers, network interface cards, servers, and many interconnecting cables. It was originally developed as a broadcast medium using coaxial cables. It was standardized with a new set of parameters, enabling a faster, efficient, and a widely accepted format.
It is incorporated in the IEEE standard of networking protocol, which defines the various rules for a local area connection. There are several standard layers defined for a communication process.
The basic layer of this process is the physical layer, which deals with the actual connectivity between two communicating interfaces. An Ethernet standard is a set of all the rules and the physical devices, comprising a physical layer of a protocol. Here are its various components.
★ Ethernet Cable: It can be simply called a wire, which carries electrical signals from one computer to the other. These cables are classified into different categories depending on the type of application. Certain categories of cables and their usage are as follows:
Category 3 or Cat 3 cable- It is used for a 10Mb speed Ethernet and voice transfer.

Cat 5 cable
- This is used for either 10 or 100 Mb Ethernet. Another version 5E is used for gigabit Ethernet, which is faster and reduces cross-talk. It can handle speeds of 10 or (100 or 1000) Mb.
Cat 6 cable- This is a slightly advanced version of 5E and works for 10 or (100 or 1000) Mb.
Cat7 cable- Also called the Class F cable, it is the latest, and a fully shielded cable used for technical applications. The most commonly used, however, is the 5E cable.
★ Hubs: It is the intermediate connecting mechanism that connects two or more stations (computers, printers, and so on). It has multiple terminals that carry cables in and out to various destinations. A hub can only work in linking just one computer to the other, at a time.
In case of multiple access demand, or if several computers are sending or receiving messages together to a single system, there is a collision of signals. Although a hub can detect such collisions, it cannot pass the information simultaneously to multiple ports. It can send data to different ports at a time but cannot receive it from the same.
★ Switches: A switch is a scaled up version of a hub. It divides the given LAN into different segments and streamlines the flow in and out of different ports. In short, it allows signals from multiple ports and transfers it to another set of ports without interference or collisions.
★ Router: It performs the functions of a hub and a switch, along with additionally providing interconnectivity between the two sub-networks, a network, and a local station or firewall for securing LAN. It acts as a gateway for communication between two networks or a network and a single domain.
★ Ethernet Card: It is also called a network adapter that is used to handle the network traffic flow in and out of a computer. It controls all the aspects of computer networking with external mediums.
All these devices are a part of this larger functioning protocol. It lays down the framework of all networking, which is carried out with the help of these devices. It does have brought about a streamlining and standardization of global communication.