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An Ethernet is a type of computer network defined by the IEEE 802.3 family of standards. The first widely-used version operated at 10 MBit/s over a shared coaxial cable, whereas modern Ethernets typically operate at 1 GBit/s or faster over point-to-point linked using twisted-pair or fibre-optic cables. Different types of Ethernet are not necessarily compatible at the physical later, but they can be connected together by means of a network switch due to their use of a common address space and similar frame formats.

Ethernet addresses are 48 bits in length and are known as MAC addresses. For physical devices these are normally assigned by the manufacturer and should be globally unique. A standard Ethernet frame has a maximum payload length of 1500 bytes, but modern Ethernet devices can often be configured to carry larger payloads. Ethernets can be subdivided into multiple virtual networks using the IEEE 801.Q VLAN protocol.


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