Ethernet cabling is most commonly used in high-speed wired computer networks and is the predominant choice for wiring local-area networks (LANs). It is also common to find it in private households for connecting to a cable or DSL modem when choosing to access the internet using broadband. Ethernet is unique because it uses a configuration in which wires pairs are twisted together in such a way to reduce electromagnetic interference.
The end of an Ethernet cable is one of its most outwardly distinguishing features. The RJ45 connector looks almost like a telephone line connector except it is much bigger and wider. Because of its ability to efficiently transmit data, Ethernet cabling can be anywhere from a few feet to hundreds of feet long at a time.
Along with its twisted-pair configuration, Ethernet is also identified as IEEE 802.3; however, that designation refers to the standard by which Ethernet works. Sometimes, Ethernet is called 10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX, or 1000BASE-T, depending on the maximum speed of a particular cable.
Ethernet cabling was actually developed in the early 1970’s by Xerox; however, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that it began to be used as a standard. In the beginning, Ethernet cables transmitted data at a speed of only 3 megabits per second. However, when it was released as the new standard, the number rose to 10 Mbps. Over time, Ethernet cables began to operate at 100 Mbps. Now? Ethernet cabling operates at 1000 Mbps– equal to 1 Gbps. Because it can support a high-speed transmission, it also can work backwards to support slower speeds, which is why it is also referred to as ‘backward compatible’.
Just as it is with all technological advances, many homes and businesses are now moving away from Ethernet cables and on to wireless technologies. However, new and improved categories of Ethernet keep appearing. This means rather than going the way of the dinosaur, it is likely that Ethernet cabling will still be around for some time.