Ethernet Network – The Role of Ethernet in Computer Networks

An ethernet network is a situation in which multiple computers are connected to one another and share the same Internet protocol address.

An ethernet network has multiple computers on the same server. The benefit in this is that multiple networks do not need to be created.

The downside to an ethernet network is that the connection of multiple computers leaves each computer open to hacking, malware, and viruses — in the event that a virus should attack one computer on the system.

There are certain components necessary for an ethernet network:

  • Ethernet cable
  • Ethernet hub
  • Crossover cable
  • Router

Ethernet Cable

An ethernet cable is a necessary cord to connect two or more computers to the same network. Each computer must have its own ethernet cable in order to operate on the same ethernet network.

Ethernet Hub

An ethernet hub is a device used to string together each ethernet cable, which connects each computer on the same network. An ethernet hub contains several ethernet ports.

Crossover Cable

A crossover cable is a substitute for ethernet cables when one wants to connect two or more computers to the same ethernet network.


A router is similar to an ethernet cable in that it connects two or more devices. Routers are more often used for local area networks that are small in size. Businesses and universities, for example, often use ethernet cables to connect computers. Small schools or elementary and middle schools (including high schools) use routers.

WANs, or wide area networks, require ethernet cables instead of routers — since routers can only work in circumstances of short distances. Certain ethernet networks require ethernet cables, but are still local area networks. Only networks across cities and states are considered to be genuine wide area networks.

While these components are essential to an ethernet network, there are three basic kinds of ethernet networks used in businesses, schools, and homes.

Basic Types of Ethernet Networks

There are three basic kinds of ethernet networks: 1) hub network, 2) crossover network, and 3) routers and shared Internet connection.

A hub network is a simple ethernet network that features a computer or two and an ethernet cable. Hub networks are set up to share files or print them, but they are not used with regard to Internet connection. In cases involving hub networks, routers are often used (when small distances are at play).

A crossover network is an ethernet network that only involves two devices (no more, no less).

In a crossover ethernet network, a crossover cable is placed in two ethernet ports so that two computers can operate on the same ethernet network.

Crossover networks are often used for file sharing, playing games, or printing papers of any kind. Crossover networks are also not used for Internet connections and do not share an Internet connection.

The last type of ethernet network is called a router with shared Internet connection.

Routers allow computers to share Internet connections, since any individual can sit at any computer in the network’s vicinity and log on to the Internet. Routers serve as WiFi devices, and any user can use a computer and click on a set router (and type in a password or not) in order to be granted Internet access.

Ethernet Network in the News

When the iPhone first emerged in 2007, there was no 100 Gigabit Ethernet (or Gigabit Internet). Today, not only is there 100 Gigabit Ethernet, but many are looking into the idea behind 400 Gigabit Ethernet technology for ethernet networks.

The progression of ethernet network IEEE standards is as follows: 10Mbps (1987-1993) to 100Mbps (1993-1997), followed by Gigabit Ethernet (1998-2001), 10 Gigabit Ethernet (2002-2012) and now 100 Gigabit Ethernet (2013-present).

According to Network World’s Jim Duffy, we could see what is called “Petabit Ethernet” (500 Gigabit Ethernet) in 40 years or less. Duffy also believes that Ethernet speeds “[are] advancing by an order of magnitude every 10 years in the past 40,” showing that it may not be too far off.

Ethernet Network First Invented 40 Years Ago

On May 22, 1973, the ethernet network as we know it was born after a Xerox engineer, Robert Metcalfe, mentioned it in a memo to his colleagues. Around this time, the University of Hawaii had implemented early forms of the ethernet network technology.

It was only after Metcalfe’s departure from Xerox that Xerox, in partnership with Intel and Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), introduced an ethernet network standard known today as 10 megabits per second (10Mbps).