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Ethernet in Computer Networking

Ethernet functions as a type of computer network. A network can be a Wide Area Network (WAN) or a Local Area Network (LAN). Because an Ethernet network must be connected by a cable over a short distance, Ethernet falls within the LAN category of networking. All devices in a LAN connection are relatively close to each other in proximity. But how is an Ethernet network different from other LAN connections?

There are five basic parts to an Ethernet connection:

  • Medium
  • Segment
  • Node
  • Frame
  • Protocol

The medium is the cabling through which electronic signals travel. The segment is one shared portion of the medium. The devices attached to this segment are called the node. Frames are the messages the nodes send to each other. The devices in the Ethernet segment use protocol, or a set of rules, to create frames when communicating.

If one node sends out a message to another node in the same segment, all nodes receive the message. It is important for frames to follow protocol, because protocol tells the nodes that don’t need the message to throw it away.

Carrier-sense multiple access with collisions detection (CSMA/CD) describes the functions of Ethernet protocol. Multiple access means that frames will be received by all nodes. Carrier-sense is a form of computer manners; it allows the nodes to wait until other communication has stopped before sending out a message. Collision detection allows the Ethernet to sense messages sent from multiple devices that detected the same time period of an open medium. When they sense a collision, the devices wait a random amount of time and then resend the message.

Follow these tips to experience better Ethernet networking:

  • Keep the segment of the medium short because Ethernet signals weaken as they travel longer
  • The fewer nodes you attach to the segment, the faster the nodes can communicate because there is less chance of collision
  • Use a repeater cable to lengthen your Ethernet cord. This allows you to connect multiple Ethernet segments.

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