Ethernet IEEE 802.3 Standards

There are many Ethernet IEEE 802.3 standards defining different aspects of Ethernet functionality & forms of Ethernet connectivity.

Ethernet IEEE 802.3 Includes:
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Ethernet standards are written and maintained by the IEEE. The standards are in the series IEEE 802.3, each different standard having a different suffix letter after the figure 3. In this way the different IEEE 802.3 standards can be uniquely identified.

The different IEEE 802.3 standards define different aspects of Ethernet. Some of the standards may introduce new versions or flavours of Ethernet to keep pace with the growing requirements for speed and performance, whereas other standards may define aspects like the data frames used.

IEEE 802.3 standards

The IEEE 802.3 standard references all include the IEEE 802.3 nomenclature as standard. Different releases and variants of the standard are then designated by different designated letters after the 802.3 reference, i.e. IEEE 802.3*. These are defined in the table below.

Ethernet IEEE 802.3 Standards Supplements & Releases
Year Description
802.3a 1985 10Base-2 (thin Ethernet)
802.3c 1986 10 Mb/s repeater specifications (clause 9)
802.3d 1987 FOIRL (fiber link)
802.3i 1990 10Base-T (twisted pair)
802.3j 1993 10Base-F (fiber optic)
802.3u 1995 100Base-T (Fast Ethernet and auto-negotiation)
802.3x 1997 Full duplex
802.3z 1998 1000Base-X (Gigabit Ethernet)
802.3ab 1999 1000Base-T (Gigabit Ethernet over twisted pair)
802.3ac 1998 VLAN tag (frame size extension to 1522 bytes)
802.3ad 2000 Parallel links (link aggregation)
802.3ae 2002 10-Gigabit Ethernet
802.3as 2005 Frame expansion
802.3at 2005 Power over Ethernet Plus

New technologies are being added to the list of IEEE 802.3 standards to keep pace with technology.

Ethernet formats

There is a convention for describing the different forms of Ethernet. For example 10Base-T and 100Base-T are widely seen in the technical articles and literature. The designator consists of a three parts:

  • The first number (typically one of 10, 100, or 1000) indicates the transmission speed in megabits per second.
  • The second term indicates transmission type: BASE = baseband; BROAD = broadband.
  • The last number indicates segment length. A 5 means a 500-meter (500-m) segment length from original Thicknet. In the more recent versions of the IEEE 802.3 standard, letters replace numbers. For example, in 10BASE-T, the T means unshielded twisted-pair cables. Further numbers indicate the number of twisted pairs available. For example in 100BASE-T4, the T4 indicates four twisted pairs.

Ethernet IEEE802.3 standard has undergone many additions and the process is on-going. This enables the Ethernet standard to keep pace with current developments and remain a forerunner in the data communications and connectivity arenas.

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