Internet and Ethernet are two technologies which may sound similar, and both provide connectivity, but their methods of delivering this connectivity differ significantly. We can help you discover the distinctions between these two different, but vital aspects of modern networking.
Most people will now understand that the internet is a global network which is able to connect computers and devices around the world. It works like a Wide Area Network or WAN, and is able to send signals huge distances which allows users to access a host of services including web browsing, email, video streaming and more. WiFi connections have helped to make internet access extremely convenient, freeing us from being tethered to physical cables to have to access the internet.
Ethernet however is a local network technology which connects devices within a certain area, creating a local area network or LAN. Ethernet works via ethernet cables which directly connect devices such as PCs, routers, and printers. Known for their reliability and high-speed capabilities, ethernet connections are a great choice for online gaming and working from home.
A great advantage of ethernet connectivity is security. There is less risk of data interception via an ethernet cable than via WiFi although with the correct measures in place, WiFi can now also be extremely secure. Additionally, thanks to ethernet’s fast speeds, data transmission is smooth and has low latency.
The Internet, A Global Network
The Internet is a gigantic worldwide network, connecting thousands of smaller networks together. Back in the 1960’s there was a predecessor, ARPANET, which worked by allowing computers on the same network to communicate using packet switching, which involves transferring data in chunks or packets to create a more efficient data transfer.
In the early 1980s engineers invented a new way for computers to talk to each other known as Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP). This was the development which allowed the internet to grow into what it is today. Without TCP/IP and other protocols, devices on separate networks wouldn’t be able to communicate with each other like they can today.
Most people will not get through the day without using the internet, whether it be for work, communication or just for entertainment purposes, billions of devices are connected to and rely on the internet, in fact, about 64.4% of the population had internet access in 2023 and this number will no doubt have continued to rise in the coming years.
Ethernet Connecting Devices with Speed and Reliability
Ethernet works by connecting devices together in a local area network, known as a LAN. For this to work an ethernet cable is used to link the devices which allows them to talk to each other. Data is transferred through the wires with the help of protocols to enable them to understand each other.
Ethernet was first introduced in the mid-1970s. It was developed at a similar stage to the Internet, but the main focus was to create a network within a limited space.
The first official ethernet standard was established in 1983 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. This standard allowed data to move at 10 megabits per second (Mbps). But over time, Ethernet improved significantly, and now it can support speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second (Gbps), which is a huge 1,000 times faster than the original standard.
One of the benefits of ethernet is that it offers more reliability and security compared to a wireless connection since it relies on physical cables which reduce range issues and latency, It can also in some cases provide faster internet speeds. However, the range of connectivity is limited by the length of the ethernet cables. Due to the advantages and limitations, places like universities, offices, and hospitals, where secure and high-speed internet is crucial, often use ethernet for their networking needs or a mixture of the two.
Empowering Your Internet Connection: Exploring Modems, Routers
To be able to connect to and enjoy all that the internet has to offer, you need to have a good connection. This connection is made possible through devices such as modems and routers. A modem is a piece of equipment which connects your home network to your internet service provider, or ISP, essentially bringing the internet into your home. A router let’s all of your wired and wireless devices use that internet connection at once and allows them to talk to one another directly, delivering the internet to the devices in your home and business.
You can connect to a router using either a wired or wireless connection. WiFi is more commonly used to connect smartphones and tablets to the internet. On the other hand, wired methods involve using ethernet cables. There are also other connectivity methods available, such as satellite, dial-up, and Digital Subscriber Line (DSL).
As wireless devices have become more popular, Wi-Fi and 4G have gained widespread use for internet access, with the reduced need for wires on show and the ability to roam whilst maintaining an internet connection, it’s not surprising why. However, there are still benefits to using ethernet, especially for activities like gaming, home offices, and environments where low latency and reliable high-speed connectivity are crucial.
Power over Ethernet (PoE) is an ethernet technology that adds electrical power to network cables. It eliminates the need for separate power cables for devices by combining power and network connectivity into a single cable. PoE is considered safer than traditional wiring because it reduces the amount of voltage needed to power a device. This technology is not limited to wired devices; it can also power wireless IoT devices, making it a cost-effective and convenient solution for network teams. PoE offers the same level of speed, security, and reliability as traditional Ethernet cables.
The Roles of Internet and Ethernet
By understanding the roles and responsibilities of the internet and ethernet, you will be able to harness their individual capabilities effectively. Whilst the internet connects us globally, ethernet comes into its own in limited spaces, providing both reliable and high-speed connections.
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