Technology works in various ways. Traditionally we did not even have computers, and now we can even communicate from one computer to another. Now when we talk about computers communicating and network connections, most of you think about Wi-Fi as a means of communication. However, the ethernet cable is also a quite famous way that helps computers to connect over a network. Now since ethernet has launched, it has modernized to cope with the technology. Each ethernet standard brings something new. In this article, we have covered everything about this wired communication technology, including ethernet limitations, standards, and how it differs when comparing ethernet vs Wi-Fi.
What Is An Ethernet Cable?
Being invented almost fifty years ago, ethernet has been in the market ever since, and it never disappoints. Although ethernet is not only good, you can also find ethernet limitations, and you might not like them. Starting from the top, ethernet was invented to link computers through a wiring connection. It basically includes a protocol, port, cable, and computer chip that is connected to a computer that is under a local or wide area network. Although most of the locations are using wireless devices with new coaxial and fiber optic cables, ethernet speeds have improved, and it continues to reign the market. Many businesses and organizations rely on this wired network because they are more secure and less interfered with when compared to wireless networks.
A computer is connected to a LAN or WAN, which in turn is connected with other devices like printers, laptops, or scanners and all of these devices are linked with a few ethernet cables, making a whole network of linked devices. Along with a router and ethernet connections, you can easily create a local area network. Ethernet can connect devices all over a building or even over an area.
Ethernet is evolving along with the technology to present better speed and serve you the speed you expect. Adding on to that, even wifi routers have ethernet ports. Many of you are so unaware that we use ethernet in our day-to-day lives, like connecting landlines or printers to computers, etc.
The best feature of ethereal connection is its adaptability. It can work in almost any environment and therefore is used universally.
How Does Ethernet Work?
Ethernet is a wired connection that connects devices and computers over a network so that they can communicate with each other. The signals are transferred via the wires. The entire ethernet setup operates on protocols. Basically, every device on this wired network has a card, we most popularly call it network interface controller (NIC). These devices that are connected over a network and are called nodes that communicate with each other via protocols. These protocols are the language of communication.
Nodes send small pieces of information which are called frames. The protocols state how frames are established. Moreover, every frame has a source address that identifies the sender and the receiver of that specific information and every frame has a unique source address. You can also refer to the devices that are connected by ethernet cable as a medium.
When an ethernet cable is long, there are chances for signals to get lost while traveling. Therefore repeaters or signal boosters are installed at equal intervals to avoid this from happening.
Components Of Ethernet
Since ethernet is a completely wired set of cables that are used to connect devices over a network, it comes with different components. Below is the list of major components of ethernet:
The protocol is the language of communication between devices. This means that the ethernet protocols contain a set of rules that states how data is created and sent with these wired connections.
Port is an opening provided on any device for connecting your ethernet cable. These ports only support RJ-45 cables. You can use ethernet wires mostly to connect computers and their equipment. This port is connected to the network adapter that is present on the motherboard. There can be multiple ports that can be used to link multiple devices.
The network adapter of ethernet is basically a chip or a card-like thing that you can insert into a slot on the motherboard. This card helps the computer to connect over a local area network. Earlier, ethernet was only operated with computers but now it has evolved and operates with laptops and even desktop motherboards.
The ethernet cable connects your computer to a router or a network switch. This cable contains a plastic jacket, internal cabling and an RJ-45 connector.
Various Ethernet Standards
Ethernet was launched nearly 50 years ago and we all have been using it ever since. But times have changed. Technology is not the same as it used to be back then. Therefore to meet the standards of the new tech, ethernet has evolved accordingly. With time passing, there are several major and minor changes to the very old ethernet cable that makes it fit the generation. This whole set of properties, functions and construction details of different ethernet cables are called ethernet standards.
ethernet standards contain information about different ethernet media types. Below is the list of different types of ethernet starting from the start.
1. Ethernet With Coaxial Cable
A coaxial cable, also known as coax, has a copper conductor along with an insulator wrapped around it as a protector. The conductor and insulator wraps an electric wire which is future shielded with a braided metal mesh. This prevents interference and crosstalk. Ethernet cable 10Base2 and 10Base5 also known as IEEE 802.3 and IEEE 802.3a uses coaxial cables for data transmission.
- 10Base2: This ethernet standard is also called ThinNet or IEEE 802.3a. Along with coaxial cable, it provides an ethernet speeds of 10 mbps covering up to 200 meters. However, it is not used now in the modern technology era.
- 10Base5: This coaxial cable is known by either IEEE 802.3 or ThickNet. This ethernet standard provides 10 mbps speed that covers up to 500 meters but its use is discontinued.
This types of ethernet cable can further be divided into different cable types:
- Tri-axial: It uses extra copper braided protection for more prevention from interference and to provide extra bandwidth. Mostly used to connect cameras or televisions with cables.
- RG-6: You can use RG-6 if you want an improved quality the signal. This cable’s di-electric insulator is thicker. Used in wireless routers or televisions with cables.
- Hardline: When a network of ethernet cables demands stronger signals, you use hardline cable. They are mostly used in internet and television connections.
2. Ethernet With Fiber Optic Cable
A fiber optic cable is made with two glass layers. It transfers information through light signals via the core which is layer one. The cladding is the layer that surrounds the core and its refractive index is lower than that of core. This prevents the light signal from staying within the core. The fiber optical cable is further devices into two different types:
- Single mode fiber: The single mode fiber (SMF) cable comes with a narrowed-down core. This only allows one single ray of light to move and deliver the data.
- Multiple mode fiber: Multiple mode fiber is similar to single mode fiber but with a much wider core that allows multiple light rays to pass and deliver data. Additionally, it is less expensive.
Ethernet cable 10BaseF, 100BaseFX, 100BaseBX, 100BaseSX, 1000BaseFx, 1000BaseSX, and 1000BaseBx uses fiber optic cable.
- 10BaseF: 10BaseF uses fiber optic cables to transfer data at the ethernet speeds of 10 Mbps for up to two kilometers.
- 100BaseFX: This ethernet standard also goes by the code IEEE 802.3u. It uses fiber optic cable to transfer data at the speed of 100 Mbps. If you use Single mode fiber, it can transfer data up to 10 km, but multiple optic cables covers up to 2 km.
- 100BaseBX: The ethernet standards of 100BaseBX states that it can deliver data up to 20 km at the rate of 100 Mbps via fiber optic cable.
- 100BaseSX: This ethernet cable ran at the ethernet speeds of 100 Mbps and was launched as an alternative for 100BaseFX. Because it covers a shorter distance up to 300 meters only.
- 1000BaseFx: This ethernet standard covers up to 500 km and runs at the speed of 1000 Mbps. However, this cable only supports multiple media fiber.
3. Ethernet With Twisted Pair Cables
Twisted pair cable as the name suggests, has a pair of two conductors, with each one having an insulator. These cables are guided media, and both the conductors are twisted together and hence the name. The more the twists are, the better quality of the signal will be transferred. To be precise, the twisted pair cable is divided into two types. These are:
- Shielded twisted pair: These cables have a copper braid covering for extra prevention from external interference. The shielded twisted cable is costly but provides a high transmission rate and covers more distance.
- Unshielded twisted pair: These cables are the same as shielded ones, except they are not shielded with an extra covering that prevents interference. It is composed of just two copper wires that are insulated and twisted together. The unshielded twisted pair is very common and is frequently used in computer networks.
You can find this type of wiring in ethernet cable 10Base-T, 100BaseT/TX, 1000BaseT, 10GBaseT, and 100BaseT4.
- 10Base-T: The ethernet standards of 10Base-T or IEEE 802.3i states that an unshielded twisted pair wiring is used that delivers data at the speed of 10mbps covering 100 meters.
- 100BaseT/TX: This ethernet cable also goes by the IEEE code 802.3u. Using an unshielded twisted pair of wiring, it transfers data at the rate of 100mbps covering up to 100 meters.
- 1000BaseT: You can recognize this cable by IEEE code 802.3ab. This cable transfers data at ethernet speeds of 1000mbps using an unshielded twisted pair covering 100 meters.
- 10GBaseT: 10GBaseT is also called IEEE 802.3an. It transfers data at a very fast pace of 10 Gbps with an unshielded twisted pair covering a distance of 100 meters.
- 100BaseT4:The ethernet standards of this unshielded twisted pair state that it covers up to 100 meters. IEEE 802.3u has an ethernet speed of 100 Mbps.
4. Fast Ethernet
One of the different ethernet standards. It was composed and hit the market in 1995. During that time, fast ethernet was the fastest network connection that allowed data to transmit at the speed of 100 megabits per second within a local area network. You can find this wiring in 100 BaseX, which also goes by IEEE code 802.3u. The length of this cable went up to 100 meters initially, but now it can go from 400 yards to 25 miles.
5. Gigabit Ethernet
Gigabit ethernet is one of the ethernet cables that transfer data in gigabits. This ethernet supports both full and half duplex modes. Using gigabit ethernet you can transmit data anytime you want without having to worry about contention. You can get low costing services just by installing this ethernet. This cable transfers data with ethernet speeds of 1 gigabit per second. This ethernet uses fiber option or any other high-tech cable.
6. 10/40/100 Gigabit Ethernet
The aim of launching this was an even faster data transmission. This cable transfers data 1000 times faster than the first and originally launched ethernet. It serves at an ethernet speed of 10 gigabits per second. However, It is defined by ethernet standards of 2002 IEEE 802.3ae. It even supports a full duplex, wherein data can move in both directions at the same time. You can find different ethernet cables that offer this speed, like 10GBaseSR, 10GBaseLR, 10GBaseER, 10GBaseSW, 10GBaseLW, and 10GBaseEW. It covers a distance of around 82 meters to 40 km. It uses fiber optical cable.
Similarly, you can find a 40-gigabit ethernet that covers 40 km when run with single mode fiber and 7 meters if operated on copper wire. It goes by the IEEE code 802.3ba and transmits data at the ethernet speed of 40 Gbps. Furthermore, 100 gigabit ethernet cable transmits data at the rate of 100 Gbps via fiber optic cable. It covers a distance of around 100 km and goes by IEEE codes 802.3bj and 802.3bm.
7. Switch-Based Ethernet Cable
You can call an ethernet cable that includes a hub or a switch a switch-based ethernet. The work of the switch is to move data from one device to another without any disturbance. Basically, when you connect a device to a switch, it will note its MAC address which is available on the network interface card. The ethernet cable is connected to the network interface card on one end, and on the other end, there is a network switch. Similarly, all the devices that are connected to the switch will have their MAC noted down. This address will be used by the switch to keep a record of which system is sending and receiving data. When the data is transmitted from one device to another without any harm to the hardware present in the network, the work of the switch is completed successfully.
8. Wired Ethernet
Just like the name, this ethernet connection is linked with ethernet cables. The major advantage is the ethernet speeds, which are a lot higher than those of wireless connections. This is because the devices are directly connected. The setup of a wired connection in a local area network or wide area network is all via ethernet cables. In this entire setup, one side of the cable is connected to the modem and the other end is connected to a device. If you are an individual use, this is an excellent choice of link for you.
The whole setup of wired connection can be spread up to 10 km and connects a maximum of fifteen devices. But with modern and wireless technology, the wired ethernet has been lagging. Having said that, it still is a great alternative for small businesses and individuals because of its fast data transfer that transmits even larger amounts of information like movies. Moreover, because of a direct connection, there is less scope for interference and data getting lost in the way.
9. Wireless Ethernet
A wireless ethernet is not connected to cables and is wired and communicates through radio signals. The higher the frequency of the radio signal is, the faster the data will transmit. Most of you are aware of wireless ethernet, which we very popularly call Wi-Fi, which does not require cables to communicate with devices. This is very famous and is adopted worldwide. You do not need wires to connect your device, it will connect if it is under the router or modem’s periphery or within a range of radio signals. The wireless ethernet setup will consist of Ethernet ports, wireless NICs, hubs, and switches.
Ethernet Cable: Usage And Benefits
Wireless connections are so famous nowadays, that most of you are quite unaware of the wonders an ethernet cable can do and where it can be used. Let us look at the different uses and benefits of ethernet cables.
Better internet experience
Ethernet connects to the modem at one end and the other end is linked to the device. Due to this direct connection, the internet speed is quite high, even higher than wireless networks.
The range of rate at which your data is transmitted within a band (network), is called bandwidth. Ethernet cables offer higher bandwidths that start from 10 mbps, 100 mbps, 1000, 10000, 40000, and 100000 megabits per second. The ethernet speed was originally in megabits per second but now it has increased to gigabits per seconds.
The cables of ethernet standards are quite wide ranging. You can get different cables based on your budget, location, and ethernet speed requirement.
Ethernet cable is quite affordable and it is extensively used because it is cost-friendly. Moreover, its performance is quite plausible given the price. Therefore many businesses, hospitals, schools, colleges, etc use it.
Wi-Fi Dead Zones
It is undeniable that wifi is universally adapted and is very extensively used all around. But there are certain areas where installing Wi-Fi is quite impossible because of the location or other factors. Ethernet cables are required in such areas for device linking and communication.
Anyone connected to your wifi signal can easily access the data when it is being transferred by a radio signal. In contrast to this, since ethernet transfers data through wires, the chances of data theft are very low. Also, you can maintain the CPU’s overall performance with this, and you can also eliminate the CPU over-temperature error.
Ethernet Cables: Setbacks
Ethernet cable is not all good. Everything has a set and here we are going to discuss ethernet limitations and setbacks. If you are thinking of installing ethernet cables, you must know all its aspects including ethernet limitations.
When ethernet was initially launched, it was launched keeping in mind computers at that time and therefore the systems had a port for ethernet connection. But since technology is evolving, many new devices that are portable like laptops require a proper setup to use with an ethernet cable. This makes it less practical and suitable.
A common ethernet cable covers up to 100 meters. This limits its distance and can only be used in devices within the range.
Setting up an ethernet connection requires a lot of work like drilling through walls, arranging several cables, cutting from concrete, etc. this is not always possible, which makes installing this network much more difficult and sometimes impossible.
It is nearly impossible to install and run an ethernet network in remote areas where the electricity is constantly going on and off. This is because the ethernet works and takes power from the electricity, in the absence of which, it becomes completely useless.
There are multiple cables coming from here and there in an entire ethernet network. But speaking of ethernet limitations, when a single cable is damaged or has a little cut, it can disturb the entire network. This cable will only work properly when replaced or repaired. Therefore, you need to take good care of all your cables.
When you install an ethernet network, you require hubs or switches, devices and wires. This means there is a lot of work required to install them. In case you decide to expand your network, that will just add to your expenses.
Ethernet vs Wi-Fi
Both ethernet and Wi-Fi have their advantages and disadvantages. However the major difference between them is, the former is a wired connection while the latter is wireless. In order to understand deeply how exactly ethernet cables suffer from Wi-Fi, here is what you need to know:
Ethernet has always or most of the time proven to be faster in speed when compared to Wi-Fi. This is because it is directly connected. The highest ethernet speeds in today’s times is around 10 Gbps or more. The highest Wi-Fi speed is 6.9 gbps but the real speed is actually lower, i.e. up to 1 gbps. Moreover, you can make your computer faster by using ethernet cables.
Wi-Fi shares data through radio signals and therefore anyone connected to it can steal the data between transfers. In contrast to this is ethernet cable as it transfers data through a cable and thus has less chance of theft.
An ethernet cable is insulated which prevents external interferences or cross-talks. It is protected from physical objects as well. However, Wi-Fi on the other hand is not reliable as it has too much exposure due to data transmission via air (radio signal).
Ethernet speeds are higher than Wi-Fi and therefore it is a better fit for uploading large files. Its speed is the main factor that leads to faster data transfer even with larger files. Therefore to avoid latency, ethernet is the better option if compared to ethernet vs wifi.
Ethernet standards require a complete setup with several wiring attached here and there. You need a proper infrastructure to work in an ethernet network. Therefore there is no mobility as you cannot move because of the cable. But if comparing ethernet vs wifi, Wifi saves the day. As it provides better mobility.
You can use ethernet connection on devices that have ports available to connect the cable. When you compare ethernet vs wifi, WiFi can be connected with laptops, computers and even mobile phones. There is no need for a port to connect wifi.
Wifi is wireless, this means there are no wires. This makes the installation process quite easy and quick. But when it comes to ethernet, the installation process is very hectic with several \wires, switch or hub and devices. One of the ethernet limitations is that It takes a lot of effort to install it.
Ethernet cable is a wired connection that is used to connect different devices in a LAN or WAN to allow communication between them. Basically an ethernet network is set up with one end of the ethernet cable attached to the switch and the other end to the device. When we compare this wired connection with wireless one, like ethernet vs wifi, we realize that ethernet offers good speed but wifi offers mobility. One of the biggest ethernet limitations is that you need a lot of effort to install it and while working in an ethernet network, you cannot move around.
If you are thinking to install ethernet at your workplace, house, school etc., this article will help you make an informed decision. We have compiled actual and deep researched details about everything related to ethernet. In this article, you can review every aspect of this wired network along with ethernet limitations and how it works. You can find a detailed description containing how an ethernet cable transfers data using protocols, frames and nodes. This help guide is designed to help you learn about this cable and assist you in making an informed division whether this network is suitable for you or not.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is ethernet?
A: Ethernet is a setup wherein devices are connected via cables, forming a local area network. The information in an ethernet network moves around through protocols, i.e. a set of rules explaining how data should move. These protocols help avoid cross talks and interference. Ethernet can connect devices all over a building or even over an area.
Q: Is ethernet faster than wifi?
A: Ethernet cables connect the device directly to the modem and therefore offers faster speed if compared to Wi-Fi. The highest ethernet speeds in today’s times is around 10 gigabit per second or more. The highest Wi-Fi speed is although 6.9 gbps but the real speed is actually lower, i.e. up to 1 gbps.
Q: How does ethernet work?
A: Ethernet will break down information you send to different devices into smaller pieces that are called frames. Every frame will have an address of sender and receiver. No two frames have the same address. The devices that are connected over a network are called nodes that communicate with each other through protocols. The protocols state how frames are established and how data will move in a network.
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