Networking / Beginners

Hardware Selection Considerations for Ethernet Networks

It's highly probable that you and your design team will be making decisions about local Ethernets.

Ethernet is the easiest network architecture in terms of shopping around for wiring, network cards, switches, routers, and other equipment. Even the most bare-bones computer equipment store will provide connectivity devices and Ethernet NICs.

Ethernet provides different flavors such as 10BASE-2, 10BASE-5, and 10BASE-T. The 10BASE-2 and 10BASE-5 implementations are old technologies, and you will have to search around to find one of these Ethernet types that's still up and running. Although 10BASE-T has been the Ethernet standard for several years, nearly all new deployments of Ethernet are 100BASE-T or 1000BASE-T.

100BASE-TX and 1000BASE-T are in many products. These standards use twisted pair cables standard (RJ-45) connectors. They run at 100 megabits per second (Mbps) and 1 gigabit per second (Gbps), respectively. However, each version has become steadily more selective about the cable it runs on, and some installers have avoided 1000BASE-T for everything except short connections to servers.

Given their ubiquity, Ethernet 100BASE-T and 1000BASE-T are the clear choices for the majority of networks. Both are inexpensive and integrated into almost every new network device, and most network equipment manufacturers offer them. They're also standardized, which helps ensure interoperability between equipment made by different vendors. You probably already know that Internet service providers (ISPs) use Ethernet connections and NICs to connect home and small office users to digital subscriber line (DSL) and cable modem networks for Internet access.

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