What is the difference between ethernet, internet and LAN? Answered

The internet, ethernet, and LAN are all types of networks. The main difference is how big the network is. LAN networks typically only have a few devices on them. The internet on the other hand connects billions of devices and allows people and machines to access a lot of content, from websites to videos. Ethernet is often seen as a LAN network that is connected to the internet. Let’s study this in more detail.

What are LAN networks?

LAN or local area network is a network of computers (or other devices) that are connected with each other. This is perfect for companies that want to connect devices without giving them access to the internet. LAN parties are also organized to play computer games against each other. Given that the speed of the connection between the devices is very fast, it is a great way to see who is best at a certain game. 

These LAN networks can get very complex and some companies hire experts to manage this for them. This includes labeling the cables and making sure that they are easy to replace. This system is centralized as one or a few devices control it. It is more reliable as there are not that many devices connected to it. One broken device can have a big impact though.

Some companies have a LAN network (installed with cables) as they feel that this is safer. No one has outside access to it so they can’t change anything on the network. Expensive machines often don’t have to be changed that often and companies don’t want to take risks with them. It is hard to control what happens with a device once it has access to the internet. Some people or companies don’t want to take risks with their data and just decide to keep it to a local network. 

A lot of Universities also have LAN networks to connect the computers on different campuses. This makes it easy to share information that shouldn’t be public. Researchers often work with confidential data that shouldn’t be accessible to everyone. It can also provide access to software that has been licensed without having to install it on every device. Special software is used to manage these LAN networks.

What is an Ethernet network?

Ethernet is devices that are connected within a local network and that are also connected to the internet. Ethernet or wifi cables are used to connect these devices to the modem of the internet provider. You can add routers to make it easier to install the ethernet system in a house. Older homes often don’t have ethernet cables and it can be quite challenging to install them. 

The cables that are used for an ethernet network or LAN network are the same. There are different types of cables and the main difference is the speed that they offer and their price.

Almost every home that has a wired internet connection also has an ethernet network. This distributes access to the internet over the home. Most people use a WiFi network as this is convenient as you can move around with devices. Adding a cable can increase the internet speed but is less flexible.

There are several ways to install an Ethernet network and you have to see what your needs are and what is possible in your home. For example, it is possible to transfer data over the electricity network as well (Powerline) if you can’t run ethernet cables in your house.

What is the Internet?

Internet is the combination of multiple computers that are connected. There are data centers that store and stream information as well. You need an internet subscription to get access to the internet. This can be a wired connection (such as Ethernet) or a wireless connection (such as 4G or satellite internet).  The internet is a lot bigger than local ethernet connections. It is a network that is active worldwide and it keeps growing. It has different layers that allow all of this data to be transmitted. The backbone of the internet consists of fiber cables that transmit data very fast over big distances. Every time that you connect to the internet (as you are doing now by reading this website), your computer has to communicate with the network of your internet provider and other computers that contain the information that you request. 

The internet is actually quite new and has evolved a lot over the past few decades. Companies have invested billions in building out the infrastructure and developing software to make it easier to access the Internet. A lot of locations don’t have access to the Internet yet but satellite systems such as Starlink are changing this so that more people can access it. 

The internet is decentralized as a lot of devices are connected together. There are some hubs or clusters but in general, it shouldn’t be possible to go down if one or a few devices experience issues. 

In the past internet providers used copper wires to send internet to their customers, nowadays they are switching to fiber for the last mile to their customers as well. This allows for new applications such as VR gaming or watching HD movies. The demand for internet traffic has exploded as people connect more and more devices to it. This has made it necessary for internet service providers to expand their infrastructure and install more powerful machines on the network.

What are the difference between the internet, LAN networks, and the internet?

Let’s take a look at the table below to see what the main differences are between these three types of networks. 

SizeA few devicesA few devicesBillions of devices
CablesLAN cableEthernet cableCopper and Fiber cables
AccessFew peopleFew peopleA lot of people
Difference between LAN, ethernet networks, and the Internet
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To conclude, we can state that there are notable differences between a LAN, ethernet, and internet. A LAN is a local connection between devices. Ethernet is also a local connection between devices but there is access to the internet as well. The internet is an enormous infrastructure that connects a lot of computers worldwide.