What is the Difference Between Gigabit Ethernet and Fast Ethernet?

NADDOD Neo Switch Specialist Jan 13, 2023

Ethernet is a computer local area networking technology, mainly used to connect multiple network systems to achieve a local area network (LAN). There are many types of Ethernet in the market, among which Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet are the most common ones, and NADDOD will compare Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet for you in detail to distinguish the difference between them.

Gigabit Ethernet VS Fast Ethernet

What is Fast Ethernet?

Fast Ethernet (i.e. Fast Ethernet, FE) is an Ethernet term used in computer networks that provides a transmission rate of 100 Mbps. the IEEE 802.3u 100BASE-T Fast Ethernet standard was officially introduced by the IEEE in 1995, and earlier Fast Ethernet had a transmission rate of 10 Mbps. the Fast Ethernet standard contains 100BASE-FX, 100BASE-TX and 100BASE-T4 sub-categories. Among them, “100” refers to the transmission rate of 100Mbit/s; “BASE” refers to baseband transmission; the letter after the dash refers to the transmission medium carrying the signal, "T " stands for twisted pair (copper), “F” stands for optical fiber; the last character (letter “X”, number “4”, etc.) refers to the use of the line code method. The following table shows the common Fast Ethernet types.

Fast Ethernet

What is Gigabit Ethernet?

Compared to Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet (i.e., Gigabit Ethernet, GE) provides a transmission rate of 1000 Mbps in computer networks. The Gigabit Ethernet standard (i.e., IEEE 802.3ab standard) was officially released by the IEEE in 1999, just a few years after the Fast Ethernet standard was introduced, but was not widely used until about 2010. Gigabit Ethernet uses the IEEE 803.2 Ethernet frame format and CSMA/CD media access control method, and can operate in both half-duplex and full-duplex modes. Gigabit Ethernet has similar cables and equipment to Fast Ethernet, but it is more versatile and economical. As Gigabit Ethernet has evolved, more advanced versions have emerged, such as 40G Ethernet and 100G Ethernet. Gigabit Ethernet has unused physical layer standards, such as 1000BASE-X, 1000BASE-T, 1000BASE-CX, etc. The following table shows the common types of Gigabit Ethernet.

Gigabit Ethernet

What is the Difference Between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet?

The following table shows the differences between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet.

Difference Between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet Note: Bit time refers to the time it takes to transmit a single bit.


From the above introduction and comparison of Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet, I believe you can find that the biggest difference between the two is the different transmission rates. In fact, Gigabit Ethernet is gradually replacing Fast Ethernet in home networks, and both types of Ethernet are no longer as popular as they were earlier and are gradually being replaced by higher-speed Ethernet, such as 10G Ethernet and 25G Ethernet. In addition to 10G or 25G Ethernet, 40G Ethernet, 100G Ethernet and even higher speed Ethernet (200G/400G Ethernet) are becoming popular in large data centers and backbone networks.