What is Ethernet : Types, Features & Its Categories

At present, computer networking has turned into an essential part for professionals, Individuals, and & academics because they rely on computer networks for different purposes like electronic mail, connect to remote databases for investigation. Thus, networking has become increasingly pervasive because it is efficient, good connectivity, fast, effective, low cost, easy migration to high-speed networks & reliable. For a normal computer user, it is a mystery to know how all the data is transmitted, stored, classified. It is not a single protocol however set of dissimilar standards that come from the IEEE with 802.3. So, it is the main alternative for local area networks. If you want to know about what is Ethernet, you must be aware of advanced technologies like Arduino development board, Raspberry pi, and many more. It is a standard communication protocol embedded in software and hardware devices. It is used for building a local area network. The local area network is a computer network that interconnects a group of computers and shares information through cables or wires.

What is Ethernet?

At present, the most frequently used physical layer LAN technology is Ethernet. Ethernet meaning is a system that is used to connect a number of computers to make a LAN (local area network). This system uses protocols for controlling data transmission by avoiding immediate transmission using a number of systems. For its connection, the number of conductors is necessary to provide the data transmission framework.

Ethernet Cable
Ethernet Cable

The data transmission range of a typical type is upto 10 Mbps (Megabits for each second). Other types of LANs are Token Ring, 10 Gigabit, Gigabit, Fast, FDDI (Fiber Distributed Data Interface), LocalTalk & ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode). It is most popular because it hits a good balance among cost, speed & easy installation. Because of these pros, Ethernet in computer networks will give support to all popular network protocols.

At present, this has become an ideal networking technology for computer users. Ethernet can be defined as a method of connecting computers as one in a LAN (local area network). It is the most frequently used technique from the past many years for connecting computers jointly in local area networks. The basic design of this can be done by connecting many computers by allowing it and the main function of this network is to transmit the data at any time.

Ethernet LAN
Ethernet LAN

The IEEE (Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers) implemented an IEEE Standard 802.3 is called an Ethernet standard. This standard describes policies for arranging a network & also states that how the elements within the network system communicate with others. By using the IEEE standard, the communication network device as well as network protocols can interact very efficiently.

Wired Ethernet Network

This technology mainly works with the fiber optic cables that connect devices within a distance of 10 km and it supports 10 Mbps.


A computer network interface card (NIC) is installed in each computer and is assigned to a unique address. An Ethernet cable runs from each NIC to the central switch or hub. The switch and hub act as a relay though they have significant differences in the manner in which they handle network traffic – receiving and directing packets of data across the LAN. Thus, this networking creates a communications system that allows the sharing of data and resources including printers, fax machines, and scanners.

Wireless Ethernet

These networks can also be wireless, rather than using Ethernet cable to connect the computers, wireless NICs use radio waves for two-way communication with a wireless switch or hub. It consists of Ethernet ports, wireless NICs, switches, and hubs. Wireless network technology can be more flexible to use but also require extra care in configuring security.

What an Ethernet Cable Looks Like?

This cable is similar to a telephone cable except for the connector because it is wider. A telephone cable includes four pins whereas an Ethernet cable includes eight pins.

For instance, if a laptop includes an Ethernet port, then the cable can be plug in to make a wired connection using a router or modem. The cable connector of this network will make a noise once the plastic spring inserted within the port of the network so that it indicates the cable is tightly plugged in toward the socket because it must have a suitable electrical connection. These cables are available in different lengths as well as colors.

Popular Standards

The popular Ethernet standards include the following.

  • For 10 Mbps bandwidth, the Informal name of Ethernet is 10BASE-T, IEEE name is 802.3, and Cable Type is UTP 100m.
  • For 100 Mbps bandwidth, the Fast Ethernet name is 100BASE-T, IEEE name is 802.3u and Cable Type is UTP 100m.
  • For 1000 Mbps bandwidth, the Gigabit Ethernet name is 1000BASE-LX, IEEE name is 802.3z and Cable Type is Fiber 5000m
  • For 1000 Mbps bandwidth, the Gigabit Ethernet name is 1000BASE-T, IEEE name is 802.3ab and Cable Type is UTP 100m
  • For 10 Gbps bandwidth, the 10 Gigabit Ethernet name is 10GBASE-T, IEEE name is 802.3an and Cable Type is UTP 100m

Top 10 Best Ethernet Cables

Ethernet cables are the most frequently used network cables for wired networks. These cables are mainly used for connecting devices that are located on LANs (local area networks) like PCs, switches & routers. This is a wired network that uses cables by connecting through Ethernet ports on computers, network routers, etc.

There are different types of Ethernet cables are available in the market. The classification of these cables can be done based on the application. Here, we are listing the top 10 Ethernet cables.

  • Cat5e RJ45 Booted
  • Cat6 RJ45 Booted
  • Cat6a SSTP LSOH Booted
  • Cat5e RJ45 Shielded
  • PatchSee Cat5e RJ45
  • Cat5e RJ45 LSOH
  • Cat6 RJ45 SFTP Shielded
  • Excel Cat6A Unscreened U/UTP LSOH Booted
  • Cat5e RJ45
  • PatchSee Cat6 RJ45

Types of Ethernet Networks

There are several types of Ethernet networks, such as Fast, Gigabit, and Switch. A network is a group of two or more computer systems connected together.

Fast Ethernet

The fast Ethernet is a type of network that can transfer data at a rate of 100 Mbps using a twisted-pair cable or a fiber-optic cable. The older 10 Mbps Ethernet is still used, but such networks do not provide the necessary bandwidth for some network-based video applications.

Twisted pair cable
Twisted pair cable

Fast type network is based on the proven CSMA/CD Media Access Control (MAC) protocol and uses existing 10BaseT cabling. Data can move from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps without any protocol translation or changes to the application and networking software.

What is Ethernet Port Speed?

When compared to a 10 Mb port, a 100 Mb port is theoretically 10 times faster than the standard port. Therefore, with a 100 Mb port, more information can stream to and from your server. This will be of great help to you if you really need to explore very high speed, but not if you are under DDOS attack because you will find yourself running out of traffic allocation very fast.

If you are doing standard web hosting, the bigger 100 Mbps pipe will not offer true benefit to you because you may not even use more than 1 Mbps at any given time. If you are hosting games or streaming media, then the bigger pipe of 100 Mbps would indeed be helpful to you.

With a 10 Mbps pipe, you can transfer up to 1.25 Mbps, while a 100 Mbps pipe, would allow you to transfer up to 12.5 Mbps.

However, if you leave your server unattended and running at full steam, a 10 Mbps pipe can consume about 3,240 GB a month and a 100 Mbps pipe can consume up to 32,400 GB a month. It would be really disgusting when you receive your bill.

Gigabit Ethernet

The Gigabit s a type of network capable of transferring data at a rate of 1000 Mbps based on a twisted-pair or fiber optic cable, and it is very popular. The type of twisted-pair cable that supports Gigabit Ethernet is the Cat 5e cable, where all the four pairs of twisted wires of the cable are used to achieve high data transfer rates. The 10 Gigabit Ethernet is the latest-generation, capable of transferring data at a rate of 10 Gbps using twisted-pair or fiber optic cable.

Optic fiber cable
Optic fiber cable

Switch Ethernet

Multiple network devices in a LAN require network equipment such as a network switch or hub. When using a network switch, a regular network cable is used instead of a crossover cable. The crossover cable consists of a transmission pair at one end and a receiving pair at the other end.

The main function of a network switch is to forward data from one device to another device on the same network. Thus a network switch performs this task efficiently as the data is transferred from one device to another without affecting other devices on the same network.

Switch Ethernet
Switch Ethernet

The network switch normally supports different data transfer rates. The most common data transfer rates include 10 Mbps – 100 Mbps for fast Ethernet, and 1000 Mbps – 10 Gbps for the latest Ethernet.

This type of network uses a star topology, which is organized around a switch. The switch in a network uses a filtering and switching mechanism similar to the one used by the gateways, in which these techniques have been in use for a long time.

Ethernet Port

An Ethernet port is also called a socket or a jack on a computer network device used to connect the cables. The main function of this port is to connect the hardware of a wired network within MAN (metropolitan area network), an Ethernet LAN, or WAN (wide area network).

Ethernet Port
Ethernet Port

In computers or laptops, these network connections are available at the backside. A router includes numerous ports to hold several wired devices over a network. This is also applicable to other network devices such as modems and hubs.

A cable that has an RJ45 connector then it supports by an Ethernet port. So, WiFi is an alternative to use a cable through this port so that it eliminates the need for both the port as well as a cable. As compared with a phone jack, this port is wider. So it is not possible to fit this cable into a phone jack because of its shape which makes it simple once plugging in cables. The designing of Ethernet cable can be done with a clip to hold the cable within the Port.

Most of the computers comprise one inbuilt port and the main function of this port is to connect the device toward a wired network. This port can be connected to its inner network adapter known as Ethernet card, which is connected to the motherboard.

Generally, laptops include an Ethernet port, used to connect a network that doesn’t include wireless capabilities. For instance, MacBook Air doesn’t include a port however it supports an Ethernet dongle toward a USB port in the computer.

At present, these ports are available almost in networking devices. These are very powerful tools that can be used to connect several devices mutually through a cable like a router, Xbox, computer, modem, Apple TVs, PlayStation, etc.

In some devices, WiFi technology has replaced the necessity of ports however these are still used in any size of the network. But, a stable, as well as a more reliable network connection, can be obtained by connecting Ethernet ports using a cable.

Alternate Technologies

Alternative technologies of Ethernet support different types of networks or topologies such a bus topology, ring topology, star topology, tree topology, and so on. These topologies can be used for transferring and receiving data using different types of cables like coax, twisted pair, fiber optic, etc.

Alternate technologies of this network include the “Token Ring” protocol designed by IBM and the robust Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) technology. ATM allows devices to be connected over very long distances to create WANs (Wide Area Networks) that behave like LANs. However, for an inexpensive network located in a single building, this network is a well-established standard with a solid record, boasting over three decades of providing reliable networking environments.

The formal designation for standardization of Ethernet protocol is referred to as IEEE 802.3. A third subcommittee works on a flavor essentially identical to Ethernet, though there are insignificant variances. Consequently, generic use of the term “Ethernet” might refer to IEEE 802.3 or DIX Ethernet.

Different Types of Cables

The different types of ethernet cables are designated according to the type and diameter of the cables used as given below:

Types of Ethernet Cables
Types of Ethernet Cables
  • 10Base2: The cable used is a thin coaxial cable.
  • 10Base5: The cable used is a thick coaxial cable.
  • 10Base-T: The cable used is a twisted-pair (T means twisted pair) and the speed achieved is around 10 Mbps.
  • 100Base-FX: Makes it possible to achieve a speed of 100 Mbps by using multimode fiber optic (F stands for Fiber).
  • 100Base-TX: Similar to 10Base-T, but with a speed 10 times greater (100 Mbps).
  • 1000Base-T: Uses a double-twisted pair of category 5 cables and allows a speed up to one Gigabit per second.
  • 1000Base-SX: Based on multimode fiber optic uses a short wavelength signal (S stands for short) of 850 nanometers (770 to 860 nm).
  • 1000Base-LX: Based on multimode fiber optic uses a long-wavelength signal (L stands for long) of 1350 nm (1270 to 1355 nm). this network is a widely used network technology because the cost of such a network is not very high.


The features of the ethernet controller include the following.

  1. Includes 1st round “hop” to a Tier 1 provider
  2. Provides wholesale pricing for all types of businesses
  3. Connects directly to the carrier’s backbone
  4. Offers Service Level Agreements with every connection
  5. Provides low-cost bandwidth
  6. Provides higher rates of data transfer
  7. Offers ‘Plug and Play’ provisioning

Ethernet Adapter

Network adapter is also known as Ethernet card or network interface card or NIC. Please refer to this link to know more about Network Interface Card.

Ethernet Switch

The Ethernet switch in the office or home works like a central station used to connect printers, computers, printers & other wired devices to each other. The internet can be accessed by connecting the switch to a modem or a router. Here, WiFi is the wireless counterpart to Ethernet.

In a wireless router, an Ethernet switch has three main functions. Although, separate Ethernet switches include a maximum of 48 ports, whereas the Ethernet switch within this router includes simply four ports.

Categories for Ethernet Cables

Different categories of Ethernet cable like UTP were mainly created for superior performance in some particular applications. Generally, the category number is high, the noise reduction will be high, attenuation will be low, and thus the bandwidth will be high.

For example, a category like CAT6 handles higher data rates on long distances as compared with a category like CAT5. New categories also added as the unique revision to attain these high data rates. Here, CAT5e is the most frequently used cable, applicable for most Gigabit Ethernet-based applications. The cables like CAT5e, CAT6, & CAT6a are available from different manufacturers in the market. Any kind of cable can be used in several applications only if it reaches the transfer speeds which are necessary for the application.

The different categories of UTP cable include the following.

  • For a category like CAT5, the typical application is 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, the maximum frequency is 100 MHz and the maximum length for application is 100 meters for 100BASE-T
  • For a category like CAT5e, the typical application is 10/100/Gigabit Ethernet, the maximum frequency is 100 MHz and the maximum length for application is 100 meters for 1000BASE-T
  • For a category like CAT6, the typical application is Gigabit Ethernet, the maximum frequency is 250 MHz and the maximum length for application is 100 meters for 1000BASE-T
  • For a category like CAT6a, the typical application is 10-Gigabit Ethernet, the maximum frequency is 500 MHz and the maximum length for application is 100 meters for 10GBASE-T

This cable performance mainly depends on the used length as well as how this cable is terminated.

Ethernet Cable Color Code

Ethernet cables are most frequently used in computer networking of commercial as well as residential applications once a wired network is desired for sharing the data by accessing the internet. These cables are used frequency cables are available in various colors which help in indicating the intended application. These cables are available in different colors like yellow, blue, grey, orange & white color. If the cable is located outside then the color will be black with waterproof, so that it survives longer within the elements.

The meaning of an Ethernet cable color mainly changes based on the application. For instance, with the DoD (Department of Defense), the government utilizes different Ethernet cords with different colors to assign a given level of arrangement for the data being transmitted in the cable. For instance, the yellow color cable is used for top-secret, the blue color is used for unclassified data and the red color is used for mid-level.

The standard colors of cables that are used through patch cord jackets by Wisconsin University mainly include the following.

  • Grey color cable is used for typical connections
  • The green color cable is used for crossover connections
  • The yellow color cable is used for POE connections
  • The orange color cable is used for analog non Ethernet connections
  • The purple color cable is used for digital non Ethernet connections
  • The blue color cable is used for terminal server connections
  • The red color cable is used for IP cameras
  • The black color cable is used as a general color
  • The pink color cable is used as an extra color option
  • The white color cable is used as an extra color option

Until now you might have understood what is Ethernet. You can now boost your understanding of the basic components involved in the internet service that is used frequently. However, in the meantime, a basic and simple question for you all- How can you use Ethernet in communication-based projects?

Give your answer and feedback in the comment section given below.

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