Networking / Beginners

Working with Ethernet 100BASE-T

For the sake of discussion, let's say you and your team opt for Ethernet LANs (specifically, 100BASE-T). 100BASE-T is versatile, widely available, and scales easily. It's simple to install and maintain, and it's reliable. Many manufacturers make network cards for everything from Intel-compatible desktop systems to Macintoshes to laptops. You can find a 100BASE-T Ethernet card for almost any system.

Additionally, 100BASE-T cabling offers an upgrade path. If you use the proper type of wire or cabling (called 568A or B), the network can support 100BASE-T networks. This upgrade path is part of what makes 100BASE-T a solid choice for a network topology. And because you can chain 100BASE-T hubs together (if you use hubs), you can increase the size of a network relatively with relative ease.

If you're concerned a 100Mbps LAN will not meet your capacity needs, don't hesitate to examine 1000BASE-T. In the past few years, the marketplace and product lines for Gigabit Ethernet have matured. Gigabit Ethernet is now widely available in off-theshelf products.

If your installation already has 100BASE-T hardware and software and you want to begin an upgrade to 1000BASE-T, make sure your evaluations include assessments of the gigabit products being backward compatible with the megabit products. If they are, your network will still be restricted to the lower rate, but you'll be on a path to migrate to a higher-capacity technology.

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