If you are reading this blog while sitting in your office, the chances are high that your laptop or computer is transmitting data via a technology known as Ethernet via LAN or WiFi. Ethernet is a traditional technology or standard communication protocol that is used to connect devices in a wired local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN).

Over the time, Ethernet network has evolved as a dominant technology used in LAN networking due to several notable benefits it provides, including,

  • Simple to install and manage
  • Easily flexible and scalable
  • Cost effective
  • Easy to incorporate between vendors

Ethernet's primary function is to transmit and receive data through cables, facilitating network communication between two or more cables. Transmission in a wired Ethernet network is attained through the use of fiber optic cable, whereas transmission in a wireless network is attained through the use of wireless technologies.

How does Ethernet work?

To understand how an Ethernet network works, we must first understand the various components of the Ethernet structure.

The Ethernet physical layer comprises the Ethernet cables and Ethernet devices. Ethernet cables are further divided into three types: A. twisted pair cables, B. fiber optic cables, and C. coaxial cables. However, only twisted-pair cables and fiber optics cables are commonly used nowadays. Coaxial cables are only found in traditional installations.

On the other hand, Ethernet devices include computers, printers, and any other device with an internal NIC (Network Interface Card) or external (USB or PCI). Besides that, switches connect multiple devices, whereas routers connect multiple switches. On the other hand, a bridge connects two similar networks, whereas a gateway connects two dissimilar networks.

These are the primary physical components of the Ethernet network. Now, let's look at the second layer of the OSI model– the data link layer.

The data link layer is classified into two parts– Logical Link Control (LLC) and Media Access Control (MAC) (MAC). LLC creates paths for data transmission between devices, whereas MAC transmits data using hardware addresses.

In order to transmit data between devices, Ethernet uses the Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) algorithm. This algorithm is used as a standard in Ethernet to reduce data collisions and improve data transmission success.

It is also worth noting that the two most common topologies used in Ethernet networks are the Bus topology and the Star topology.

Advantages of using Ethernet LAN

An Ethernet LAN network has a number of advantages. Four out of them are discussed below: speed, security, dependability, and efficiency.

1. Transmission speed

The first major advantage of Ethernet LAN is the data transmission speed. In comparison to WiFi, an Ethernet network provides faster and more consistent data transmission. The Gigabit network allows users to transmit data at speeds ranging from 1 to 100 Gbps. This faster and more consistent data transmission greatly helps organizations and individuals perform online operations more efficiently.

2. Network security

Another significant benefit of Ethernet LAN is network security. Unlike WiFi networks, which are vulnerable to cyberattacks, Ethernet connections are secure and can withstand various security intrusion attempts. On the one hand, where even the most robust WiFi protocols, such as WPA2, are vulnerable, Ethernet networks are difficult to violate. Since attackers will need physical access to the system to gain access, Ethernet LAN is more secure.

3. Network reliability

Ethernet network is widely regarded as one of the most reliable Local Area Network (LAN) protocols. Since it uses the Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) algorithm, the possibility of packet collisions or packet losses is significantly reduced. Moreover, this protocol either delays transmission until no other stations transmit or suspends transmission as soon as a collision is detected. In a nutshell, Ethernet LAN is very reliable.

4. Power efficient

Ethernet network is an energy-efficient technology that is also secure, reliable, and power-efficient. Green Ethernet devices consume only 0.5 watts of power. To reduce power consumption, when no data is being transmitted, transmitters in the physical layer are put to sleep. However, refresh signals are sent at a regular interval to maintain link signaling integrity.

In addition to these four major benefits of Ethernet LAN, there are a few others, as listed below:

  • In contrast to the client-server architecture, all nodes in Ethernet are given equal privileges.
  • The administration and maintenance of an Ethernet network are simple.
  • Ethernet connection does not require data encryption.
  • Ethernet is more cost-effective than other network systems.
  • Ethernet networks use firewalls to protect data from malicious cyber attacks.

Setting up a LAN network: what you need to follow?

Setting up an Ethernet LAN network is much faster and simpler than you might think. All you have to do is follow the 8 steps outlined below:

A. Determine your network needs

The first step in setting up a LAN Ethernet network is to determine which local services you want to make available on your network. The exercise should include all of the services that will be shared among the workstations, such as printers, disc drivers, and so on.

B. Gather your network hardware

Next, identify and collect all of the network hardware or devices required to set up a LAN network. It could be anything from computers to mobile phones to laptops. Overall, at this point, every device with a unique address that is to be added to the network will be identified.

C. Plan connections

The third step in setting up a LAN network is to plan the connection between the devices. The network could be either wired or wireless. If it's wired, mark the connections with Ethernet cable wires. If it's wireless, use WiFi connections to configure.

D. Select networking device

Next, select a switch or router with enough ports to connect based on the number of devices. It is recommended that you analyze your present and future Ethernet network requirements before deciding between switch and router.

E. Configure ports

Set up the LAN and WAN ports. When it comes to LAN ports, make sure there are enough addresses available for all workstations on the network. When it comes to WAN ports, keep in mind the information provided by the ISP (Internet Service Provider).

F. Make connections

Connect all network devices using Ethernet wires to form a LAN network. You can use standard Ethernet cables to connect workstations and servers while using Ethernet crossover cables to connect switches to cable routers.

G. Test the network

Once the connections have been completed, test the network and each workstation. Ensure that all workstations with access to network services are ready to work at full potential. If you discover an issue or a broken connection, resolve it.

LAN Ethernet vs WAN Ethernet

The fundamental difference between LAN and WAN Ethernet is that LAN covers a small geographical region such as an office, home, or a building, whereas WAN covers larger geographical areas such as a city or country. However, aside from the region, there are several other differences between Ethernet LAN and Ethernet WAN, as shown in the table below.

Parameter Ethernet LAN Ethernet WAN
Stands ForLocal Area NetworkWide Area Network
DefinitionA local area network (LAN) is a network that covers a small geographical area, such as a home, office, or school.A wide-area network (WAN Ethernet) is a network that covers a large area, such as a city or a country.
Data Transmission SpeedProvide higher speed. Upto 1/10 Gbps (Gigabits per second).Lower speed. Typically 100 MBPS. (Megabits per second).
ComponentsLAN is built using layer 1 and layer 2 devices such as switches, hubs, bridges as well as layer 3 devices.WAN is typically built using layer 3 devices such as routers and multi-layer switches.
Network SecurityLAN is more secure.WAN is less secure.
CostLAN is a cost effective network setup.WAN is a costly network setup.
Data StandardEthernetT1
Signal DeteriorationNoYes
ScalabilityUsing a NICUsing an additional router
Network TopologyPeer-to-peerClient-server model
Maintenance CostLessMore


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