What is Ethernet? the wired network connection, explained

  • Ethernet is the most common type of local area network (LAN) technology and involves a wired connection to the Internet.
  • Ethernet comes in several varieties, including Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet.
  • Although Ethernet is more stable and secure than Wi-Fi, it is generally less accessible and can be more expensive.
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Although Wi-Fi is the most readily available option for connecting to the Internet these days, many homes and businesses still rely on Ethernet to create networks between devices as well as between those devices and the online world. .

What is Ethernet?

Ethernet is the most common type of local area network (LAN) technology and involves a wired connection to the Internet through Ethernet cables. These cables, such as Cat5, Cat6, etc., are used to connect a device to an internet router and transfer data.

Ethernet has the advantage of being faster than Wi-Fi due to its use of cables for a wired connection and its lack of reliance on radio waves; it also happens to be more stable and secure for the same reasons.

Ethernet cables plugged into internet router

Ethernet cables connect your devices to an internet router.

Yanawut Suntornkij/EyeEm/Getty Images

Ethernet works on the basis of a local area network (LAN), connecting a series of computers over a distance of up to about 10 kilometers, usually in a school or workplace in the same building.

Although Ethernet may seem slightly outdated in the age of wireless, it is still very useful for particular and intensive tasks, such as video


and virtual communication.

Advantages of Ethernet

  • Speed: An Ethernet connection is almost always faster than Wi-Fi because it uses a cable to transfer data almost instantaneously, whereas a wireless network relies on the relatively slow and diffuse transfer of data over radio waves.
  • Stability: Similarly, Ethernet tends to provide a more stable connection to the Internet than Wi-Fi because its connected cables provide stability that a reliance on wireless frequencies cannot consistently provide.
  • Security: Ethernet connections are also more secure since you can control who has access to the LAN; if someone is not connected to the local network, they do not have access to their data and devices.

Disadvantages of Ethernet

  • Accessibility: Adding users to an Ethernet network is more difficult because it requires empty router ports and cables, and many devices such as tablets and cell phones do not have built-in Ethernet ports.
  • Transportability: The physical wired connection of Ethernet is not easily transported from place to place or even from device to device.
  • Cost: Since Ethernet connections require equipment to facilitate, extending them can be expensive and time-consuming and energy-consuming. While a single home office can be relatively simple to outfit, expanding it into a home, office building, or campus takes some effort. Professionals may even be needed if additional wiring is required.