Fast Ethernet vs Gigabit Ethernet

Updated on Apr 9, 2020 by

Ethernet is a group of networking technologies, which is used to connect multiple systems to develop a local area network (LAN). There are many types of Ethernet in the market, among which Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet are more frequently used currently. This article will make a comparison of Fast Ethernet vs Gigabit Ethernet in detail.

Fast Ethernet vs Gigabit Ethernet.png

What Is Fast Ethernet?

Fast Ethernet (FE) is a term of Ethernet in computing networking, which stands for carrying traffic at the speed of 100 Mbps. It came into the market in 1995 with the IEEE 802.3u standard and the original version was at the rate of 10 Mbps. Fast Ethernet includes 100BASE-FX, 100BASE-TX, 100Base-T4 and so on. The "100" refers to the transmission speed of 100 Mbit/s, while the "BASE" refers to baseband signalling. The letter following the dash ("T" or "F") refers to the physical medium (twisted pair or fiber, respectively) that carries the signal, while the last character ("X", "4", etc.) refers to the line code method used. The table below shows the common Fast Ethernet types.

100Base-T4Twisted Pair100mUse Cat3 UTP
100Base-TxTwisted Pair100mFull duplex at 100Mbps
100Base-FXFiber optics2000mFull duplex at 100Mbps; long runs

Of the Fast Ethernet physical layers, 100BASE-TX is by far the most common with each network segment having a maximum cabling distance of 100m.

What Is Gigabit Ethernet?

Compared with Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet (GE) offers 1000Mbps in computing networking, therefore, got the name gigabit. Gigabit Ethernet was released in 1999, only a few years after Fast Ethernet coming about, but it was not widely used until the internet demands increased around 2010. Gigabit Ethernet uses a frame format of 803.2 and also runs on half-duplex and full-duplex modes. GE shares similar cables and equipment with Fast Ethernet but is more common and economical. With the continuous development of Gigabit Ethernet, a more advanced version of GE has come out, such as 40G Ethernet, 100G Ethernet. There are different physical layer standards for Gigabit Ethernet, such as 1000BASE-X with optical cables as medium,1000BASE-T using twisted pair cable, or 1000BASE-CX using shielded balanced copper cable. The table below shows the varieties of Gigabit Ethernet types.

1000Base-SXFiber optics550mMultimode fiber (50, 62.5 microns)
1000Base-LXFiber optics5000mSingle (10u) or multimode (50, 62.5 u)
1000Base-CX2 Pairs of STP25mShielded twisted pair
1000Base-T4 Pairs of UTP100mStandard category 5 UTP

Fast Ethernet vs Gigabit Ethernet: What’s the Difference?

The table below shows the differences between fast Ethernet vs Gigabit Ethernet.

NameFast EthernetGigabit Ethernet
Speedup to 100Mbpsup to 1000Mbps
Round-trip Delay100-500 bit times4000 bit times
Cableoptical fiber cable or copper media like Cat5/Cat5eoptical fiber cable or copper media like Cat5e/Cat6
Distancewithin 10kmup to 70km
Costcheapermore expensive
Applicationresidence and small network environmentslarge corporate networking


This article has explained and compared the two types of Ethernet: Fast Ethernet vs Gigabit Ethernet. The biggest difference between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet is speed. In fact, both of them are losing popularity in many applications gradually. And Gigabit Ethernet is gradually replacing Fast Ethernet for home use. At present, 10G or 25G Ethernet is preferred In enterprise networks, and 40G, 100G or even higher 200G and 400G Ethernet are mainly used in large data centers and backbone networks.

Related Article:

Gigabit Switch vs Fast Ethernet Switch: What Is the Difference?

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