What Is Ethernet?

Getting your devices to work is one thing, but making them work together to share resources and information is another. Ethernet is a network technology that makes this possible. In this article, we will discuss more about Ethernet, how it works, and how it revolutionized the way devices connect, forming the backbone of modern wired networks.

What is ethernet?

Ethernet is a group of wired networking technologies that connects devices in a local area network (LAN). While it’s primarily used in LANs, it’s also used in Metropolitan Area Networks and Wide Area Networks under certain configurations. Ethernet is considered a well-established technology because of its high reliability and performance.

How does ethernet work?

Ethernet technology is employed to connect devices and enable them to communicate with each other seamlessly. Here are some processes that are involved in ethernet technology:

  • Formation of data packets

Before data is transferred, it is broken down into smaller pieces called data packets. Data packets are essential not only for transferring data in manageable chunks but also for ensuring efficient data transmission and accurate data delivery across the network.

  • Identifying MAC addresses

MAC addresses are unique identifiers attributed to each device within the network. As the name suggests, they indicate where a device is located on the physical network so the network knows where to deliver data packets.

  • Data transmission

The data packets are wrapped in a frame, which adds information about the sender’s address and error-checking data. This frame is then transmitted over the ethernet cable.

  • Collision detection

When multiple data are transmitted simultaneously, they can get garbled. To minimize the instances of data collisions, ethernet uses a MAC method called Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD). Its primary function is to enable devices to listen to existing traffic before transmitting and take steps to resolve collisions if they occur.

  • Receiving data

A device will receive the data packets if it identifies the MAC address from the frame and interprets them based on the protocols involved. It will ignore the transmitted data if it doesn’t recognize the MAC address.

The pros and cons of ethernet?

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of ethernet:

Pros

  • Speed and reliability: Ethernet, a wired networking technology, transmits data faster. Since it’s wired, it doesn’t have to deal with problems like weak signals typically experienced on data transmissions over Wi-Fi.
  • Lower latency: Data is transmitted faster through an ethernet connection. This is in contrast to data transmission methods done over Wi-Fi, which can be affected by signal interference.
  • Security: Ethernet connection is secured and less vulnerable to hacking than Wi-Fi since Wi-Fi connections can be intercepted.
  • Cost: The overall cost of an ethernet network is generally lower than Wi-Fi, which mostly relies on Wi-Fi extenders. Since ethernet connections are more reliable, the need to upgrade is reduced, making them cost-effective.

Cons

  • Mobility: Ethernet networks typically have limited mobility because this networking method uses cables. This restricts the movement and placement of devices within the network.
  • Installation: Installing an ethernet network may be more complex because it’s wired. This also makes it potentially tedious because drilling holes and laying out the cables may be involved in the process.
  • Scalability: When deploying additional devices into the ethernet network, you will need to add extra cables and possibly switches. This may make expansion and installation more complex.
  • Device compatibility: You may notice that some newer devices lack built-in ethernet ports. While this can be resolved by purchasing adapters, these introduce additional costs and potential inconvenience when connecting devices.

Ethernet as an essential networking technology

Ethernet is a well-established networking technology that has helped devices communicate and share data reliably. While ethernet connections have limitations, they are still viable options for connecting devices for security and speed. Ethernet networking is the foundation for a strong and stable network, ensuring tasks requiring high bandwidth and low latency are done seamlessly.

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