The Fast Ethernet standard (IEEE 802.3u) has been established for Ethernet networks that need higher transmission speeds. This standard raises the Ethernet speed limit from 10 Mbps to 100 Mbps with only minimal changes to the existing cable structure. Fast Ethernet provides faster throughput for video, multimedia, graphics, Internet surfing and stronger error detection and correction.
There are three types of Fast Ethernet: 100BASE-TX for use with level 5 UTP cable; 100BASE-FX for use with fiber-optic cable; and 100BASE-T4 which utilizes an extra two wires for use with level 3 UTP cable. The 100BASE-TX standard has become the most popular due to its close compatibility with the 10BASE-T Ethernet standard.
Network managers who want to incorporate Fast Ethernet into an existing configuration are required to make many decisions. The number of users in each site on the network that need the higher throughput must be determined; which segments of the backbone need to be reconfigured specifically for 100BASE-T; plus what hardware is necessary in order to connect the 100BASE-T segments with existing 10BASE-T segments. Gigabit Ethernet is a future technology that promises a migration path beyond Fast Ethernet so the next generation of networks will support even higher data transfer speeds.