Ethernet is the collective name for a group of standards defining local area networks (LANs), also known as 802.3.  These standards cover cabling, the structure of data sent over those cables, and the hardware that connects the cables.  Ethernet transmits frames of data across baseband cables using CSMA/CD.

Ethernet over twisted pair copper

There are many standards for Ethernet over twisted pair or copper-based computer networking physical connectivity methods. Ethernet hardware currently falls into three general categories:

  • 10Mbps Ethernet,
  • 100Mbps Fast Ethernet, and
  • 1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet.

These three standards all use the same connectors. Higher speed implementations nearly always support the lower speeds as well so in most cases different generations of equipment can be freely mixed.

They use 8 position modular connectors, usually called RJ45 in the context of Ethernet over twisted pair. The cables usually used are four-pair or above twisted pair cable. According to the standards, they all operate over distances of 'up to 100 meters'.

Fast Ethernet - 100BASE

Fast Ethernet is a collective term for a number of Ethernet standards that carry traffic at the nominal rate of 100 Mbit/s, against the original Ethernet speed of 10 Mbit/s. Of the 100 megabit Ethernet standards, 100baseTX (T="Twisted" Pair Copper), is by far the most common.

Gigabit Ethernet - 1000BASE

Gigabit Ethernet (GbE or 1 GigE) is a term describing various technologies for transmitting Ethernet frames at a rate of a gigabit per second, as defined by the EEE 802.3-2005 standard. Half-duplex gigabit links connected through hubs are allowed by the specification but in the marketplace full-duplex with switches are the norm.

Ethernet Switches

Ethernet switches map the addresses of the nodes residing on each network segment and then allow only the necessary traffic to pass through the switch. Additionally, switches prevent bad or misaligned packets from spreading by not forwarding them.  In switched networks, each segment is an independent collision domain.

Unmanaged & Web Smart vs. Managed Switches

Easy to install, most switches are self learning. They determine the Ethernet addresses in use on each segment, building a table as packets are passed through the switch. This "plug and play" element makes Unmanaged Switches simple to install and run.

-          Web Smart switches provide some key features using simple web-based management to manage functions such as: port based Vlans, 802.1p QoS, port trunking/link aggregation, port mirroring, priority queue's & 802.1x security support.

-          Managed switches are required for full management of all functions and full SNMP status and configuration reporting into enterprise network management tools.

Power over Ethernet

Power over Ethernet (POE) is a technology that integrates data, voice and power over standard LAN infrastructure. It is the means to supply reliable, uninterrupted power to Internet Protocol (IP) telephones, wireless LAN access points, network cameras and other Ethernet devices, using existing, commonly used Category 5 cable infrastructure.

Power over Ethernet technology saves time and cost of installing separate power cabling, and it eliminates the need for a dedicated UPS (Uninterrupted Power Source) for individual devices. A single UPS placed centrally close to the switches and the Power over Ethernet source will protect both the switches and all the connected devices.

Wireless N (WLAN)

WLANs provide wireless network communication over short distances using radio signals instead of traditional network cabling.  A WLAN typically extends an existing wired local area network and are built by attaching a device called the access point (AP) to the edge of the wired network.

Wireless N (802.11n) is the third-generation Wi-Fi standard for wireless networking. 802.11n equipment is backward compatible with older 802.11g or 802.11b equipment, and it supports much faster wireless connections over longer distances.

Media Converter (Transceiver)

An Ethernet media converter connects an Ethernet twisted pair cable at one end into  a fibre optic  cable at the other end to allow multiple networks to communicate that are using different kinds of cables.

It can also be used within the same network if multiple computers are utilizing different technologies or not all of them have the capability to use fibre optic cables

Gigabit Interface Converter (GBIC)

1000Base-X (Gigabit)  fibre technology introduced the gigabit interface converter (GBIC).

The GBIC is an optical-to-electrical interface that plugs into an Ethernet switch and support different types of fibre, laser frequency and fibre modes.