How many different “Nets” are there? Although there are many different ways in which business networks connect to the Internet and with each other, the most popular for this day and age remains the Ethernet. An Ethernet protocol offers high-speed access at varying rates and is excellent for high-data transmissions through a network. Let’s examine the different types of Ethernet connections a provider typically offers as well as what the future holds.

What is the Ethernet Protocol?

The Ethernet protocol has existed in one form or another since the 1970s, although it was more recently that it became the common method that businesses and home customers alike used to connect to one another. When the term “Ethernet” is used, it can refer to one of several different protocols, each with their own different speed. The standard Ethernet, which is most commonly requested by home users and owners of very small businesses, transfers data at 10 Mbps (millions of bits per second). Most businesses use the fast Ethernet, which transfers data at 100 Mbps and can thus handle more file transfers and larger data storage. Very large businesses might look into the gigabit Ethernet, which transfers at 1,000 Mbps. These speeds represent a maximum limit – at times, transfers might be slower than that.

Ethernet and the OSI Model

Most network connections are defined using the OSI model, which stands for Open Systems Interconnection. There are seven layers in this model, but an Ethernet connection mainly interacts with only two: the data link layer and the physical layer. The physical aspect of the Ethernet revolves around a network card and a connecting cable, although it is also possible to set up a wireless network using some additional software. When it comes to the data link layer, the Ethernet splits the layer into two parts. The logical link control, or LLC, allows several network protocols to remain active at once. The media access control, or MAC, allows multiple terminals to connect to the network at the same time.

Which Ethernet is Right for You?

If you have a business of any sort, you should probably shoot for a gigabit Ethernet connection if at all possible. As the size of data continues to grow, this is the best option to make sure that you won’t have to constantly upgrade your network in order to handle large file transfers, remote gateways, and cloud computing protocols. If you’re looking to save some money and have a small business with only a handful of employees or network access points, you might be able to function using the vanilla fast Ethernet, although you may find yourself needing to upgrade sometime in the near future. For businesses, a standard 10 Mbps Ethernet is only appropriate if you have one or two full time employees.

A Look into the Future

As technology continues to develop, the Ethernet protocol looks to be here to stay. The technology is extremely flexible and eminently buildable, meaning that even as one type of Ethernet services starts to lose efficacy another faster variation can be brought on board. For example, as the gigabit model becomes more common, developers have already begun to institute even faster alternatives that can handle 10 Gbps or 40 Gbps at a time. The newest Ethernet protocol on the horizon is the 1,000 Gbps model, which will likely meet all the requirements of businesses both small and large for a long time to come.

Keeping an Eye on Tomorrow

If you are planning to implement a new Ethernet connection in your office, the best bet would probably be to go for a gigabyte Ethernet model for now and to keep an eye on emerging technologies that can allow you to speed up your network even further. You will want to make sure you map out your structure and keep clear records of all hardware you need. If you have a good layout now, you will be in a better position to upgrade in the future. Most businesses benefit from at least one wireless router as well, since this can help people who bring their mobile devices into the office so they can function as work machines.

If you plan to use a network of any sort, odds are that you will need to be familiar with Ethernet protocols. Keep this in mind when looking into new technologies and when hiring members of your IT team. The more knowledge you have about the technology in the present, the better you will be able to adapt in the future.


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