10BASE2 and 10BASE5

10BASE2 and 10BASE5

IEEE shorthand identifiers, such as 10Base5, 10Base2, 10BaseT, and 10BaseF include three pieces of information:

  • The number 10: At the front of each identifier, 10 denotes the standard data transfer speed over these media - ten megabits per second (10Mbps).
  • The word Base: Short for Baseband, this part of the identifier signifies a type of network that uses only one carrier frequency for signaling and requires all network stations to share its use.
  • The segment type or segment length: This part of the identifier can be a digit or a letter:
  • Digit - shorthand for how long (in meters) a cable segment may be before attenuation sets in. For example, a 10Base5 segment can be no more than 500 meters long.
  • Letter - identifies a specific physical type of cable. For example, the
  • T at the end of 10BaseT stands for twisted-pair.


One of the most common types of Ethernet in use today is 10BaseT. This particular implementation uses four-pair UTP wiring (Cat3 or higher, but most commonly you will see Cat5) using RJ-45 connectors. Each cable is connected from each network device to a central hub in a physical star topology. Within the hub, the signals are repeated and forwarded to all other nodes on the network because it is a logical bus topology. Older network interface cards are configured with jumpers to set addresses and interrupts.

Today's network interface cards can be managed through a diagnostic program, or automatically configure themselves through plug and play technology. There is a limit of 1024 devices on an Ethernet segment, plus you can have a maximum of 1024 network segments. A UTP cable has a maximum distance of 100 meters, which is equivalent to 328 feet.


10BaseF is an implementation of Ethernet 802.3 over fiber optic cabling. 10BaseF offers only 10 Mbps, even though the fiber optic media has the capacity for much faster data rates. One of the implementations of 10BaseF is to connect two hubs as well as connecting hubs to workstations. The best time to use 10BaseF is in the rewiring of a network from copper to fiber optic, when you need an intermediate protocol using the new wiring. 10BaseF is not often a permanent solution because the data rate is so low and the cabling so expensive in comparison to using UTP.


10Base2, also called ThinNet, is one of the two Ethernet specifications that use coaxial cable. (One of the best ways to remember that 10Base2 is ThinNet, and 2 is smaller than 10Base5, which is ThickNet.) One of the most important issues to remember in an Ethernet coax wiring scheme is the 5-4-3 rule,

5-4-3 rule
which states that you can have up to five cable segments, connected by four repeaters, with no more than three of these segments being mixing segments. In the days of coaxial cable networks, this meant that you could have up to three mixing segments of 500 or 185 meters each (for 10Base5 and 10Base2, respectively) populated with multiple computers and connected by two repeaters. You could also add two additional repeaters to extend the network with another two cable segments of 500 or 185 meters each, as long as these were link segments connected directly to the next repeater in line, with no intervening computers,

A 10Base2 network could therefore span up to 925 meters and a 10Base5 network up to 2,500 meters which states that there can only be 5 segments in a series and 4 repeaters between these 5 segments, although only 3 of the segments can be populated with devices. 10Base2 uses BNC connectors and is implemented as both a physical and logical bus topology using RG-58 cabling.

The minimum distance for cables between workstations must be at least a half-meter. Drop cables should not be used to connect a BNC connector to the network interface card (NIC) because this will cause signaling problems unless the NIC is terminated. 10Base2 ThinNet segments cannot be longer than 185 meters, although it is often exaggerated to 200 meters, and you can't put more than 30 devices on each populated segment. The entire cabling scheme, including all five segments, can't be longer than 925 meters.


10Base5 is nearly identical to 10Base2, except that it uses a different type of cabling and media connector. 10Base5 is known as ThickNet because it uses the RG-8 coaxial cable. It requires an external transceiver to attach to the network interface card on each device. The transceiver is a device that translates the workstation's digital signal to a baseband cabling format. ThinNet and UTP network interface cards have built-in transceivers. Only 10Base5 ThickNet network interfaces use external transceivers. In the 10Base5 configuration, the NIC attaches to the external transceiver using an AUI connector. The transceiver then clamps into the ThickNet cabling, which is why it is usually called a vampire tap. 10Base5 can also use BNC connectors. For 10Base5, the following rules apply: First the 5-4-3 rule applies to ThickNet just as it did to ThinNet. In addition, the minimum cable distance between each transceiver is 2.5 meters. The maximum network segment length is 500 meters, which is where 10Base5 gets the "5" in its name. The entire set of five segments cannot exceed 2,500 meters. You can have 100 devices on a 10Base5 network segment.


100BaseFX is simply Fast Ethernet over fiber. Originally, the specification was known as 100Base-X over CDDI (Copper Data Digital Interface) or FDDI (Fiber Data Digital Interface). Because the signaling is so vastly different, these two technologies were split into 100BaseFX and 100BaseTX. 100BaseFX runs over multimode fiber. There are two types of fiber in use. Multimode fiber optic cables use LEDs to transmit data and are thick enough that the light signals bounce off the walls of the fiber. The dispersion of the signal limits the length of multimode fiber. Single mode fiber optic cables use injected lasers to transmit the data along fiber optic cable with an extremely small diameter. Because the laser signal can travel straight without bouncing and dispersing, the signal can travel much farther than multimode.


100BaseT4 was the specification created to upgrade 10BaseT networks over Cat3 wiring to 100 Mbps without having to replace the wiring. Using four pairs of twisted pair wiring, two of the four pairs are configured for half-duplex transmission (data can move in only one direction at a time). The other two pairs are configured as simplex transmission, which means data moves only in one direction on a pair all the time.


100BaseTX, Fast Ethernet, transmits data at 100 Mbps. Leveraging the existing IEEE 802.3u standard rules, Fast Ethernet works nearly identically to 10BaseT, including that it has a physical star topology using a logical bus. 100BaseTX requires Cat5 UTP.

Gigabit Ethernet

The fastest form of Ethernet is currently Gigabit Ethernet, also known as 1000BaseT over Cat5 or highergrade cable, using all four pairs of the cable. It uses a physical star topology with logical bus. There is also 1000BaseF, which runs over multimode fiber optic cabling. Data transmission is full-duplex, but half-duplex is also supported.

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