Home Networking Guide : Ethernet

Ethernet Home Network
Figure: Ethernet Home Network.
In this example the house already has Ethernet wiring ready
with Ethernet jack (RJ45 female connector) in every room.
Power jacks and power cables are not shown in this diagram for simplicity.

Ethernet is a wired LAN technology that follows IEEE 802.3 standard. There are various types of Ethernet cabling. Ethernet can run over coaxial cable, twisted pair cable, and fiber optic cable. But most Ethernet networks are implemented using twisted pair cables.

10BaseT and 100BaseT are the most common Ethernet cabling standards used in home networks. Both usually use UTP (unshielded twisted pair) Cat 5 cable. 10BaseT and 100BaseT provides data rate of 10 and 100 Mbps respectively, fast enough for running most multimedia applications over a home network. However, if you want more, you still have a chance to get faster speed, that's using 1000BaseT (Gigabit Ethernet) which can give you 1 Gbps data rate. Gigabit Ethernet has long been used in big corporate networks and ISPs, and now it is expanding its user base to smaller networks due to the increasing product availability with lower price. Computer manufacturers have started shipping new desktop or laptop models with built-in 10/100/1000BaseT network adapters.

Both common Ethernet cabling standards use star topology in which each computer or device is connected to a hub or a switch as a central connection point. Most Ethernet hubs or switches in the market support both 10BaseT and 100BaseT. They can switch from/to 10BaseT and 100BaseT automatically depending on line condition. This feature is called auto-sensing. Look at the Related Links below to see the difference between hub and switch.

Please note though, you don't need to buy a separate hub or switch if you already have a broadband router that has built-in switch. This device will connect all your computers to the Internet. However, you must check the number of available ports, whether it is adequate for connecting all computers.

The maximum length of an Ethernet cable segment (that is from each computer to the hub) is 100 meters. You must use a straight-through cable for connecting each computer to a hub or switch. A straight-trough cable is a Cat 5 cable or better (i.e. Cat 5e, Cat 6) that is pinned identically in both ends, either following EIA/TIA-568A or 568B wiring scheme.

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