Difference Between Ethernet and USB

To connect devices and transfer data, we need a certain sort of interface between the nodes. This is being achieved so far by two legendary data transferring medium called the Ethernet and the USB.


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Back in those days, the internet was not used for what it is used today. Internet was used to transport data and messages between the government and the military.

Ethernet vs USB

The difference between USB and Ethernet is their speeds. USB has a speed that ranges from 1.5 Mbps – 10 Gbps. In contrast, Ethernet has a speed that ranges from 100 Mbps – 10 Gbps. Apart from that, ethernet does not support power transfers data but, USB supports both power and data transfer.

Ethernet vs USB

Ethernet is a local area network or LAN which only acts over a short distance. Due to which there are 1000s of Ethernet connections all over the world.

Similarly, USB is a local area network in which USB cable assemblies are some of the most commonly used and practised cables feasibly.

Comparison Table

Parameters of comparisonEthernetUSB
ProtocolEthernet uses a Wired protocol – e.g. cat5/5e.USB uses the Asynchronous Serial Protocol.
Type of ports/cablesCat 5, Cat 6, Cat 6a and Cat 7 are all types of cable an Ethernet network can use to draw connections to the device.Standard A and Standard B are two types of ports used to establish stable connections of USB.
Connection PatternThe connection pattern is both bus and star topology.The connection pattern is of star topology.
No. of Devices Depending upon the cable, Ethernet can connect from 32-256 devices in one go.USB can connect to 127 devices in one shot or in a single time period.
Type of networkEthernet is a Local area network (acts over a certain distance). USB has a greater radius than LAN and a lower radius of internet bandwidth of WAN.

What is Ethernet?

Ethernet was renamed IEEE 802.3 in recent times. Ethernet is one of the methods to connect computers using switch or bridge as connectors.

Cables can be glass or plastic typed (optical fibre and co-axial twisted pair cables). Its layer of connection can be further divided into two subparts such as,

  • Physical layer and
  • Datalink layer.

Ethernet uses LAN (local area network) to gain connections and forms a star topology.

The physical layer is all about cabling devices. It uses RJ-45 with both half Duplex and Full Duplex connections. For a connection internally, it uses NIC or Network Interface Card and uses the USB for external connection.

Cat 5 has a speed range of 100 Mbps, Cat 6 with a speed range of 1Gbps, Cat 6a with a range of 10 Gbps and Cat 7 with a range of 10 Gbps.

Datalink layer includes two key elements, namely:

  • Logical link control and[LLC]
  • Media access control[MAC]

Advantages of Ethernet:

Ethernet has an enormous speed of data transfer with a maximum of 10 Gbps. It is a widely accepted form of the data transfer port. It provides ease in installation and setup.


What is USB?

USB or Universal Serial Bus is used to replace legacy port and quick pairing of devices. It uses Asynchronous serial protocol as a connection and file transfer protocol. Types of USB based on its versions and their speeds are given below:

USB 1.0 2-12 Mbps

USB 2.0 480 Mbps

USB 3.0 5 Gbps    

USB 3.0 10 Gbps

Advantages of USB:

  • It works with low-cost devices. 
  • No power supply for most devices (100 mA to 500 mA). It gives a very minimal amount of current supply, as mentioned above, to the devices connected to it.
  • Robust error detection. It finds errors in the robust encoded codes.

Disadvantages of USB:

  • It comprises a complex protocol.
  • Fees are applied to the USB.
  • Hard ward problems with USB signalling.

Some types of data transfer packets include handshake packet and token packet.


Main Differences Between Ethernet and USB

  1. Through the data transfer speed measure test, USB and Ethernet were tested to know which performed the best, which is measured in the means of Mbps.
  2. USB can connect multiple devices at the same port. But, Ethernet doesn’t do so.
Difference Between Ethernet and USB


  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/4531719/
  2. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/6884363/
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