The term Ethernet refers to the family of local-area network (LAN) products covered by the IEEE 802.3 standard that defines what is commonly known as the CSMA/CD protocol. Four data rates are currently defined for operation over optical fiber and twisted-pair cables:

  • 10 Mbps—10Base-T Ethernet
  • 100 Mbps—Fast Ethernet
  • 1,000 Mbps—Gigabit Ethernet
  • 10,000 Mbps—10 Gigabit Ethernet

Ethernet is currently used for approximately 85 percent of the world's LAN-connected PCs and workstations. Ethernet is the major LAN technology because of the following characteristics:

  • Is easy to understand, implement, manage, and maintain
  • Allows low-cost network implementations
  • Provides extensive topological flexibility for network installation
  • Guarantees successful interconnection and operation of standards-compliant products, regardless of manufacturer