As part of my course I’ve been reading the paper Ethernet: Distributed Packet Switching for Local Computer Networks. I understand that “classic” Ethernet (over coaxial cable) has a maximum length of 2500m while Ethernet over twisted pair has a maximum length of just 100m.
While Googling for an answer I found a question on superuser whose accepted answer is:
The specification of 328 feet has to do entirely with collision detection in a CSMA/CD (Carrier Sense Multi Access / Collision Detection network. The length is limited by the fact that the shortest possible frame size (64 bytes) can be sent out on the wire and if a collision occurs, the sending node will still be sending that frame when it hears the collision.
However, I understand that full duplex, packet switched Ethernet networks do not require collision detection because the connection is point and point (i.e. your computer is connected to an Ethernet switch - there are no other computers physically sharing the same cable with you) and data is sent and received on separate wires. Full duplex communication provides every network node with a unique collision domain. This operation completely avoids collisions and does not even implement the traditional Ethernet CSMA/CD protocol.
So, I must ask: why is Ethernet over Cat5 limited to 100m? It can't be because of collision detection, since full duplex Ethernet (which I suspect make up almost 99% of all LANs, unless anyone is still running a bus network from 1995) does not suffer from collisions.
If I had to guess I would guess that it is due to attenuation and signal degradation over the copper wire.