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Thread: Does anyone know what ethernet is?

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    Question Does anyone know what ethernet is?

    Can someone explain to me what ethernet is? I am very confused

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    I'm confused why you're asking.

    Ethernet is the media to a network.

    Think of it this way.... You access the Internet via an ethernet.

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    Ethernet is one type (the most common) of wired computer network. It allows for all normal network operations, such as file transfer and internet access, but uses a cable instead of wireless signals.

    It:
    • Pre-dates "Wi-Fi" by quite a bit
    • Can provide much better performance than wireless solutions, 1Gb/s (1000Mb/s) being more or less standard with much faster available
    • Is simpler and easier to set up, just plug in the cable
    • Is more reliable, no signal strength to worry about
    • Is (usually) more secure, as it cannot be received by anyone that does not connect a cable
    • Can run very long distances with appropriate hardware
    • Can perform lots of extra fancy tricks like network booting


    And perhaps most importantly, it's very cheap. Almost all desktop computers have support built-in, along with most nicer laptops. For devices that don't have it, a 1Gb/s PCIe card is as little as US$12 and a USB 3.0 version is around US$14. A switch (used to connect multiple cables together) is about US$16 for a cheap 5-port model, and the cables are only a few dollars.

    I do recommend using it for desktop computers, since they usually have support built in (so it's often cheaper than wireless) and you get all of the advantages listed above. Desktops usually don't move much, so you only have to route the cable to it once. Laptops and other mobile devices tend to be better suited to wireless connections since they often move around.

    Most likely, when you signed up for internet service with your ISP, they probably sent you a "router" (actually a modem/router/AP combo) that provides you with a wireless network. These usually do have an Ethernet port on them, and you can use this for multiple purposes. You can plug a computer into it to connect it to the internet over a wired connection, or if you have issues with your wireless network like signal strength or performance you can buy an AP and plug it into that port. If you want to connect more than one device to it, buy an Ethernet switch and use it to connect the cables together.

    Some of the products referenced above - these are US Amazon links, as your profile indicated you're in the US:

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheapie View Post
    Ethernet is one type (the most common) of wired computer network.
    Ethernet doesn't have to be wired. Wi-Fi IS wireless ethernet.

    https://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/t...eless-ethernet

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    Quote Originally Posted by jonnyGURU View Post
    Ethernet doesn't have to be wired. Wi-Fi IS wireless ethernet.

    https://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia/t...eless-ethernet
    I've never actually heard it called that, but it sounds a lot like the sort of thing that people would just start calling something without it actually being standardized - kind of like how some people call switches "internet splitters" and such.

    Unfortunately I don't have access to the text of IEEE 802.11 to see if it mentions Ethernet or 802.3 to see if it mentions wireless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cheapie View Post
    I've never actually heard it called that, but it sounds a lot like the sort of thing that people would just start calling something without it actually being standardized - kind of like how some people call switches "internet splitters" and such.

    Unfortunately I don't have access to the text of IEEE 802.11 to see if it mentions Ethernet or 802.3 to see if it mentions wireless.
    I have access to ieee.

    looking at IEEE Std 802.11-2016, https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7786995/ doing a quick search, the only thing that 802.3/ethernet appears to be mentioned is the translation from 802.3/ethernet -> 802.11 wlan.

    in "802.3-2015 - IEEE Standard for Ethernet", https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/7428776/, wireless isn't even mentioned, so i'd consider ethernet to be purely wired, as they tie 802.3 to ethernet in the document

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    Please do not mix different OSI layers when comparing standards...

    Both WiFi and Ethernet are different sub-standards of the same parent standard: 802. This standard defines a Data Link Layer (Layer 2) for exchanging data using MAC (Machine Access Code) via MAC addresses of stations, switches and hubs/routers. Both WiFi (802.11) and Ethernet (802.3) use MAC addressing, but they use different Physical Layers (Layer 1) to achieve the desired effect.

    Ethernet is strictly wired; be it via coaxial cable, twisted pair cables and 8p/8c jacks/connectors or optical cables and transceivers.
    Careful what you wish for... You just might get it.

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    I asked because I've read the term somewhere and I was like "Oh they misspelled the word." Then I tried looking into it and after a bit, I thought it was the same thing, but a friend of mine told me it is not. We started arguing because I just couldn't understand the difference and I decided to ask you guys. I looked into some articles myself and finally understood the difference between them. Generally speaking, ethernet is LAN and connects the pc to a local connection, and internet is WAN- more global. I have no idea why I haven't paid attention to that before. But thank you so much for helping me out!

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