What’s The Difference Between Fast Ethernet vs Gigabit Ethernet?

Difference Between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet - 10Mbps vs 100Mbps vs 1000Mbps

What Is Ethernet, Fast Ethernet And Gigabit Ethernet?

Ethernet is a way to connect a number of different computers and other devices to form a Local Area Network (LAN). It does this through the use of Ethernet cables that physically connect the different devices.

As with other types of network, the technology used in Ethernet has developed over time to allow faster transfer speeds. Ethernet has moved from the humble beginnings of 10Mbps speeds to 100Mbps fast Ethernet, 1000Mbps Gigabit Ethernet and even 10000Mbps Ethernet if you use Cat6 cables.

This article will take a look at fast Ethernet vs Gigabit Ethernet and what the main differences are, as well as giving a quick look at the original 10Mbps Ethernet.

10Mbps Ethernet

10Mbps is one of the oldest forms of Ethernet and as such is pretty much obsolete and unused.

The adoption of Fast Ethernet and then Gigabit Ethernet has meant that there is no reason to use 10Mbps Ethernet to make your LAN.

100Mbps Ethernet

ethernet cable - 10Mbps vs 100Mbps vs 1000Mbps - What’s The Difference Between Fast Ethernet And Gigabit Ethernet

100Mbps Ethernet, also known as Fast Ethernet was initially introduced in 1995. It was released using the 802.3u standard although other 100Mbps standards soon became available.

100Mbps Ethernet uses category 5 Ethernet cables which allow data to be transferred at these high speeds although it is backward compatible with earlier Ethernet standards.

1000Mbps Ethernet

1000Mbps, or Gigabit Ethernet was actually released only a few years after 100Mbps Ethernet in 1999. However it wasn’t until recently that it really started to gain popularity among users.

It provides much faster transfer speeds, gives you more bandwidth and like 100Mbps Ethernet, is fully backward compatible.

10Mbps vs 100Mbps vs 1000Mbps (1Gbps) - What’s The Difference?

The biggest difference between the different types of Ethernet is of course in data speed. Gigabit Ethernet also improves on available bandwidth and interference to give improved performance in all areas.

Each type of Ethernet generally allows up to 100 meters per cable run although the exact length and speed available at each segment will vary depending on the condition of cable that you use.

When it comes to cables, Fast Ethernet generally uses Cat 5 or Cat 5e cables while Gigabit Ethernet will use Cat 5e or Cat 6 Ethernet cables. All cables are backwards compatible although the network will be limited to the speed of the slowest cable.

It should be mentioned that nowadays 10Mbps Ethernet is almost not used at all. 100Mbps is fairly common and standard in many places although 1000Mbps is becoming more and more common.

1Gbps Internet?

Note that despite the quicker speeds available on 1Gbps Ethernet, most internet connections don’t go this fast so it is most only useful for transfers within your local network (unless you are extremely lucky enough to have access to these kinds of internet speeds - we are not worthy!).

This can include things such as streaming movies on your local network, or if you are working in the office,  which often use dual WAN routersbacking up computers or connecting to servers etc.

Thanks for reading this article, hopefully, it has cleared up some of the questions you may have had about the different types and speeds of Ethernet available. If you still have any questions please comment below!

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