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Ethernet at the Physical Layer

Ethernet was originally implemented by a group comprised of Digital, Xerox and Intel (DIX). IEEE then
took over and created the 802.3 standard. This was a 10Mbps Ethernet that used co-axial cables.

Exam Alert: Ethernet is used to describe the family of standard that includes FastEthernet, Gigabit Ethernet etc. It is
also used to describe the 10Mpbs variant also which is simply noted as Ethernet.

IEEE then extended the 802.3 committee to two new committees known as the 802.3u (FastEthernet)
and 802.3ab (Gigabit Ethernet on category 5 cable). Then it created another committee known as the
802.3ae (10Gbps over fiber and co-axial).

On the other hand the Electronics Industries Association and the newer Telecommunication
Industries Alliance (EIA/TIA) is the standards body that creates the physical layer specifications for
Ethernet. It specifies that a registered jack (RJ) connector with a 4 5 wiring sequence on an unshielded
twisted-pair (UTP) cabling should be used with Ethernet. This cable comes in categories where higher
category has less of the following two problems associated with them:

 Attenuation – This is the loss of signal strength as it travels the length of the cable. It is
measured in decibels.
 Crosstalk – This is the unwanted signal interference from adjacent pairs in the cable.

What this means is that category 5 cable has lesser attenuation and crosstalk than category 3 cables.

Now that you know about the standards bodies involved and what they have done, it is time to look at the
various Ethernet standards. Table 1-3 lists the original 3 standards. Remember that each standard is
different in terms of Speed, Cable and the Maximum Length of cables.

Table 1-3 Original Ethernet Standards

Name Speed Cable Max Connector Description

Type Cable

10Base2 10Mbps Coaxial 185 AUI Known as thinnet, it can support up to 30 hosts in a
meters single segment. A single collision domain across the

10Base5 10Mbps Coaxial 500 AUI Known as thicknet, it can support up to 100 users in a
meters single segment. A single collision domain across the

10BaseT 10Mbps UTP 100 RJ45 The first standard to use UTP cable with RJ45. A single
meters host can be connected to a segment or wire. It required
use of hubs to connect multiple hosts.

Table 1-4 shows the extended Ethernet Standards.

Table 1-4 Extended Ethernet Standards

Name Speed Cable Type Maximum Cable Connector


100BaseTX (IEEE UTP cat. 5, 6 or 7

100 Mbps 100 meters RJ45
802.3u) two-pair wiring

100BaseFX (IEEE ST or SC
100Mbps Multimode Fiber 412 meters
802.3u) connector

1000BaseCX (IEEE Copper twisted pair

1000Mpbs 25 meters DE-9 or 8P8C
802.3z) called twinax

1000BaseSX(IEEE ST or SC
1000Mbps Multimode Fiber 220 meters
802.3z) connector

1000BaseLX(IEEE ST or SC
1000Mpbs Single mode Fiber 5km
802.3z) connector

1000Mpbs Cat 5 UTP 100 meters RJ45

Ethernet Cabling
When connecting different kinds of devices to each other, different kinds of cabling is used. The following
three types of Ethernet cablings exist:

 Straight-through cable (a normal patch cable)

 Crossover cable
 Rolled cable

The three cabling types are discussed below:

Straight-Though – A UTP cable has 8 wires. A straight-through uses 4 out of these 8 wires. Figure 1-21
shows the configuration of the wire on both ends in a straight-through cable. Notice that only wires 1, 2, 3
and 6 are used and they connect straight to corresponding number on the other end.

Figure 1-21 Wire configuration in Straight-Through cable

Note: If you are wondering why the wire configuration is important remember that the transmitter on one
end needs to connect to the receiver on the other end. If wiring configuration is incorrect, bits sent from one end will
not be received at the other end.

Crossover – Crossover cable also uses the same four wires that are used in straight-through cable but
different pins are connected here. Figure 1-22 shows the configuration of the wires in a crossover cable.

Figure 1-22 Wire configuration in Crossover cable

Crossover cable is used to connect:

 Host to Host
 Switch to Switch
 Hub to Hub
 Switch to Hub
 Router to a host

Any easy way to remember this is that similar devices are connected to each other using crossover

Rolled Cable – A rolled cable cannot be used for any Ethernet connection. It is used for connecting to a
router’s or a switch’s console port from your host’s serial communication (com) port. Every Cisco router
and switch has a console port that is used for initial configuration. All 8 wires are used in this cable and
each wire connects to the opposite number on the end (1 to 8, 2 to 7, 3 to 6 etc). Figure 1-23 shows the
wire configuration.

Figure 1-23 Wire configuration in Crossover cable

Exam Alert: Cable types and where they are used is a very important topic not only for the CCNA Exam as
you will see questions on it, but also for your networking career as well.

Data Encapsulation in TCP/IP Model

The last thing you need to know about TCP/IP model is the Data encapsulation process and PDUs. As in
case of the OSI reference model, the data is encapsulated in a header (and trailer in case of Network
layer) to create a Protocol Data Unit (PDU) and is passed down to the next layer. Though you are aware
of the process, you must know the names of each layer’s PDU. The PDU in TCP/IP model are:

 Transport Layer -> Segment

 Internet Layer -> Packet
 Network Access Layer -> Frame

Figure 1-24 shows the encapsulation process in TCP/IP model.

Figure 1-24 Data encapsulation in TCP/IP Model