Fast Ethernet Vs Gigabit Ethernet: Their Differences Analyzed in Detail

Today, computers in Local Area Networks (LAN), Wide Area Networks (WAN), and Metropolitan Area Networks (MAN) are connected through Ethernet. This technology was introduced in the 1990s and is covered under the IEEE 802.3u standard. Ethernet is perceived as a low-cost network connectivity solution of all, because it allows businesses to expand their network without disturbing the existing workflow. This technology is generally used for connecting devices in a building and is not feasible for networks spanning across countries. It allows all connected computers in a network to communicate with each other through a single cable. There are several types of Ethernet, which are mainly differentiated based on their speeds. Of these, Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet are quite popular and still in use. How do these types differ? Which is the right Ethernet speed for you? Read the post to find answers.
fast ethernet ve gigabit ethernet

Introduction to Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet

Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet are the two most confusing terms for many. The following pointers will help you gain a basic understanding on them.
  • Fast Ethernet (FE): Introduced in 1995, Fast Ethernet has a transmission speed of 100 Mbps. Covered under 802.3u standard, a few Fast Ethernet types include 100 Base-FX, 100 Base-T4, and 100 Base-TX.  The “100” is common to all and it indicates the transmission speed of the network, which is 100 Mbps. Base refers to the baseband signaling. In this, T stands for twisted pair cable, and F stands for fiber – both referring to the type of cable used for signal carrying. The term 4 or X refers to the line code signal used.  FE supports both - full-duplex and half-duplex modes. Autonegotiation was introduced along with FE, which enables two devices to transmit data through a commonly shared connection.
  • Gigabit Ethernet (GE): Introduced in 1999, Gigabit Ethernet has a transmission speed of 1000 Mbps. It is today one of the widely used Ethernet types. It supports full-duplex and half-duplex modes and is covered under the framework of 803.2.  It was first introduced over fiber optic cables in 1999 and twisted pair cables were introduced later. There are different layer standards of GE such as 1000Base – SX, 1000Base-LX, 1000Base- CX, and 1000Base-T. Of these 1000 Base-SX and 1000-Base LX use fiber optics cable and 1000Base –CX uses 2 pairs of STP and 1000Base-T uses 4 pairs of STP.

Fast Ethernet Vs Gigabit Ethernet: A Few Differences Uncovered

Both Ethernet types are widely used for creating network connections in LAN. Be it Fast Ethernet or Gigabit Ethernet – both types use fiber optic cables, twisted pair cables, fiber optic Ethernet switches, and so on. Having said that not all cables can support these Ethernet types. For instance, the Cat5 or Category 5 cable supports 100-Base-T Ethernet and traditional Ethernet; the Cat5e or Category 5e cable supports GbE; and Cat6 or Category 6 cable supports 10GbE. Although both these types work on the concept of Ethernet, still, they have some considerable differences between them. The following pointers will help you understand it better and give tips on how to choose between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet.
  • Speed: As discussed in the introduction –Fast Ethernet has a speed of 100 Mbps, whereas Gigabit Ethernet has a speed of 1000 Mbps, which is exactly 10 times faster than the Fast Ethernet. Of these, the Fast Ethernet type is suited for small business or home applications, which require no more than 100 Mbps speed. However, Gigabit Ethernet is suited for applications that need high Internet speeds. It ensures high Internet speeds, as well as LAN speeds.
  • Round-trip Delay (RTD): This refers to the time duration taken by a web browser to send the signal and receive the acknowledgment from the server. Round-trip time or Round trip-delay is expressed in milliseconds. When discussed in terms of computer networks, it is also referred to as a ping time. The Gigabit Ethernet has a delay of 4000-bit times, and the Fast Ethernet has a delay of 100-150 bit times. On looking at the numbers, one can realize that the Fast Ethernet has slightly longer delay times than Gigabit Ethernet.
  • Device Requirements: As said before, both these Ethernet types utilize similar devices, but have slightly different requirements. The Fast Ethernet does not require specific devices, whereas Gigabit Ethernet requires specifically designed cables and Ethernet switches. Thus, it raises the cost of investment.
  • Configuration: Owing to their requirement for special devices, the configuration problems are little higher in Gigabit Ethernet than the Fast Ethernet.
  • Upgrades: Standard Ethernet to Fast Ethernet upgrade is easy and requires no major investments. However, Fast Ethernet to Gigabit Ethernet upgrade requires major investment and there are several complexities involved in it.
  • Coverage: Fast Ethernet offers a coverage of 10 km and Gigabit Ethernet can cover up to 70 Kms.

A Quick Overview for Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet

This comparison chart comprises summarized information from the above section. It offers you quick insights on key differences between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet. This quick comparison will help you memorize the advantages and challenges of each technology easily.

Comparison Features

Fast Ethernet

Gigabit Ethernet


100 Mbps




Slightly complicated


More delays

Less delays

Coverage Distance

Can cover a distance up to 10km

Can cover a farther distance up to 70km

Round Trip Delay

100-500 bit times

4000 bit times

Transmission Modes

Full duplex and half duplex

Full duplex and half duplex


Successor of 10-Base-T  Ethernet

A Successor of Fast Ethernet

Layer Standards

100 Base-FX, 100 Base-T4, and 100 Base-TX

1000Base – SX, 1000Base-LX, 1000Base- CX, and 1000Base-T. Of these 1000 Base-SX and 1000-Base LX

Device Requirements

Requires no specific devices

Requires specially designed cables and Ethernet switches

Having known the differences between these two types of Ethernet, the selection becomes easy. If you are still unable to make up the mind it is always better to approach an expert. To execute it, you need to invest in quality devices. There are several manufacturers who offer quality Ethernet switches and devices and VERSITRON stands tall among them. The company provides managed switches with 4, 6, 10, 24, and 56 ports.

Rich Tull

R.W. Tull is the President of Versitron Inc. He works closely with clients to review layout diagrams and drawings in order to ensure that the best fiber optic solution is achieved for a particular project.

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