What Is a Fast Ethernet Switch?

By Michael Hintz

An example of a Fast Ethernet switch
i switch image by Herbie from <a href='http://www.fotolia.com'>Fotolia.com</a>

To understand what a fast ethernet switch is, first you'll need to understand two separate networking terms: "fast ethernet" and "switch." Put together, they make a tool that sends out data at high speed over a network.

Fast Ethernet Definition

"Fast ethernet" is a term sometimes used to describe ethernet implementations faster than 10 megabits per second (Mbps).

Switch Definition

A "switch" is a hardware device that filters and transmits packets of data through a computer or a network of computers. Ethernet cables are plugged into it on one end and into a computer or other network device (such as a printer) on the other end.

Types of Fast Ethernet

Fast ethernet is more commonly called 100BaseT, the 100 Mbps version of ethernet, or 1000BaseT or Gigabit Ethernet, the 1000 Mbps version.

Switches vs. Hubs

Switches have a significant advantage over hubs because they can filter and send data specifically to the computer or device on the network that needs the data, rather than to other hardware that is connected, making network usage much faster.

Switches vs. Routers

Routers contain more complex software to manage data transfer over a network than switches, making them ideal for routing large amounts of incoming and outgoing broadband Internet data.

Faster Internet Accessibility

Most fast ethernet switches are now capable of using both 10 and 100 Mbps speeds, and if connected to a computer or network that is designed for higher speeds, allows for faster Internet accessibility.