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What is ethernet? Everything You Need to Know About Wired Networks

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before wi-fi Ubiquitous, Ethernet was the way to connect devices together. You can send traffic back and forth by running an Ethernet cable across a local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN). Ethernet enables machines to recognize the data assigned to them and send data to other devices. It is still widely used because sending data along cables is faster, more reliable, and more secure than sending it over radio waves, as Wi-Fi does.

If you want to get the best out of your Internet connection, Ethernet is still a great way to do it, and it’s an obvious choice for any organization that prizes high speed, security, and reliability. Here’s everything you need to know about Ethernet. You may want to dive into our guides on how to buy a router, the Best Wi-Fi Router, and the Best Mesh System.

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history of ethernet

First created in 1973 by a group of Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) engineers that included Robert Metcalf and David Boggs, Ethernet allowed people to connect multiple computers in a local area network (LAN). Ethernet provides a set of rules for rapidly sending data back and forth between specific machines. the name ethernet was inspired by luminous ether,

To massively simplify the early history of Ethernet, Xerox dropped its trademark on the Ethernet name, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) formalized the 802.3 standard (otherwise known as Ethernet) in 1983. Gave. Other technologies existed, but Ethernet soon became the dominant standard because it was open, so networking equipment was available from many manufacturers. Upgrading to Ethernet was also easy, with each version offering backward compatibility.

The first official Ethernet release supported speeds of up to 10 Mbps. Then came 100 Mbps Fast Ethernet in 1995, and Gigabit Ethernet in 1999. By 2002, 10-Gigabit Ethernet was possible. Power over Ethernet, or PoE, which enabled devices to use a single cable for power and networking, landed in 2003. Work continues to increase Ethernet capabilities, reaching 40 Gbps in 2010, then 100 Gbps later that year. Research continues, but 40 Gbps is the top speed available for home use today, and it’s more than most of us need.

Ethernet and Wi-Fi

Even if you’ve only ever used Wi-Fi, you’re probably familiar with Ethernet plugs and cables. The cable that connects your modem to your Wi-Fi router or main mesh unit is probably an Ethernet cable with an RJ45 connector. Ethernet offers three main advantages over Wi-Fi: It’s faster, more stable, and more secure. But it requires you to run cables between the devices, and the connected devices must have Ethernet ports. Wiring a network can be complicated and expensive.

Ultimately, the speed you get will always be limited by the component with the lowest rating, be it a cable, port, or switch. Let’s take a closer look at all three.

ethernet cables

Photograph: Amazon

There are seven categories of Ethernet cables in use today, offering different maximum bandwidths and data rates.