Fast Ethernet: Racing To High Speed LAN Evolution
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LANs are very common in many enterprises; both large and small. They are the ideal networks that can connect multiple computers together and allow companies to share information among the employees. One of the most popular LAN implementations is the Fast Ethernet solution. Interestingly, it is an evolved version of the traditional LAN which was much slower.
The very first LAN networks were built on the Co-axial cables. Each computer would be connected to a common bus through drops. These were highly inefficient, but in the past era, efficiency was not a big thing; connectivity was. The link speeds for these cables and LAN implementations were around 2 to 5 Mbps.
The next big breakthrough in this space was the introduction of UTP or unshielded twists pair cables and the RJ45 connectors. The biggest advantage of using the UTP cables was that they could be easily bent without affecting the signal transmission. The co-axial cables had the limitation of a large radius of curvature at the corners.
The other important development at the same time was the concept of a hub. A hub is a device which has an emulation of an internal bus, very much like the co-axial cable. The only different is that this bus is limited to the hub alone. All other computers could now be connected to the hub ports extending the diameter of a LAN.
This network was termed as a 10 BASE T network. This was the first real LAN Ethernet implementation that was truly scalable and flexible to meet the growing needs for connectivity. The maximum speed support by this solution was 10 Mbps, which soon became a norm. With hubs evolving into switches, the half duplex combinations became full duplex increase the LAN capacities further.
However, the 10Mbps was really not sufficient enough to support the growing demand from various applications usage. As a result, there was a growing need for better LAN solutions. This lead to the standardization of 100 BASE T or the commonly known Fast Ethernet. This is the most widely deployed solution in most enterprises today.
With a solid backbone of 100Mbps and many new network elements like switches becoming popular, the Fast Ethernet has given the network planners a great stepping stone to LAN evolution. The ample data rate allows all users to use various bandwidth hungry applications. The Fast Ethernet standard has ensured that the LAN is no more the bottleneck for fast information access.
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