Fast Ethernet refers to an Ethernet network that can transfer data at a rate of 100 Mbit/s. It can be based on a twisted pair or fiber optic cable. (The older 10 Mbit/s Ethernet is still installed and used, but such networks do not provide the necessary bandwidth for some network video applications.)
Most devices that are connected to a network, such as a laptop or a network camera, are equipped with a 100BASE-TX/10BASE-T Ethernet interface, most commonly called a 10/100 interface, which supports both 10 Mbit/s and Fast Ethernet. The type of twisted pair cable that supports Fast Ethernet is called a Cat-5 cable.
Gigabit Ethernet, which can also be based on a twisted pair or fiber optic cable, delivers a data rate of 1,000 Mbit/s (1 Gbit/s) and is becoming very popular. It is expected to soon replace Fast Ethernet as the de facto standard.
The type of twisted pair cable that supports Gigabit Ethernet is a Cat-5e cable, where all four pairs of twisted wires in the cable are used to achieve the high data rates. Cat-5e or higher cable categories are recommended for network video systems. Most interfaces are backwards compatible with 10 and 100 Mbit/s Ethernet and are commonly called 10/100/1000 interfaces.
For transmission over longer distances, fiber cables such as 1000BASE-SX (up to 550 m/1,639 ft.) and 1000BASE-LX (up to 550 m with multimode optical fibers and 5,000 m with single-mode fibers) can be used.
10 Gigabit Ethernet
10 Gigabit Ethernet is the latest generation and delivers a data rate of 10 Gbit/s (10,000 Mbit/s), and a fiber optic or twisted pair cable can be used. 10GBASE-LX4, 10GBASE-ER and 10GBASE-SR based on an optical fiber cable can be used to bridge distances of up to 10,000 m (6.2 miles). With a twisted pair solution, a very high quality cable (Cat-6a or Cat-7) is required. 10 Gbit/s Ethernet is mainly used for backbones in high-end applications that require high data rates.