Difference Between Ethernet and USB (With Table)

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. The connection is established through cables and ports of USB and Ethernet. Both have proved themselves as one of the renowned creations through which the internet took a trip throughout the world.

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. Internet was at a very low speed, and it took hours for the message to reach the other side. Ethernet and USB have taken it to the next level.

Ethernet vs USB

The main 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 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. But, the internet is a Wide area network or WAN with enables connections across countries too. Which makes it unique, and there is no other internet.

Similarly, USB is a local area network in which USB cable assemblies are some of the most commonly used and practised cables feasibly. These are mostly used to connect computers to peripheral devices, including cameras, camcorders, printers, scanners, etc.

Comparison Table Between Ethernet and USB

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. A hub is a simple device that connects multiple computers together and to the rest of the network, allowing communication to occur between all connected devices.

Ethernet uses cables such as Cat 5, Cat 6, Cat 6a and Cat 7 to establish a connection between the nodes. 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. It uses a switch and gateway to hold connections with nodes. Common and most used connectors include SFP connector and SC connector.

Cables used in an Ethernet connection are Cat 5, Cat 6, Cat 6a and Cat 7.

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. It can be set in lower costs. And it supports network protocols.


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. It connects a maximum of 127 devices and uses hubs for connecting nodes. 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 is hot-pluggable.
  • 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. USB is used as an interface to connect among devices, but Ethernet is an interface for networking. This says that USB is capable of multitasking, whereas Ethernet can only provide internet via cable source. 
  2. USB has a much shorter range than Ethernet and is much faster than Ethernet. Due to its long-range accessibility, Ethernet is preferred more for internet access spots in offices and workplaces.  
  3. USB provides power supply to the nodes and devices inter-connected, whereas Ethernet does not. This helps the user to have fewer compatibility issues and can go with one mode of wired connection for both internet access and power supply connection to the node. But still, USB provides a power supply to very low power consumable devices. 
  4. Ethernet is used to connect cable modem or DSL to the node. Whereas USB is used to connect peripheral computer devices.
  5. 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. Through which it was found that Ethernet is twice faster than USB.
  6. USB can connect multiple devices at the same port. But, Ethernet doesn’t do so. Thus, USB is more adaptable for devices where there is a need for multiple access nodes.


USB and Ethernet are connecting interfaces used to provide a connection between nodes. 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 has differences in the range from where it produces network, feasibility, power supply applications, and cost. 

In terms of speed, Ethernet is twice faster than USB. USB can connect multiple devices at the same port. Ethernet is used to connect cable modem, whereas USB is used to connect peripheral devices. And Ethernet has a much larger range of network when compared to the USB’s range.


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

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Editorial Staff at Ask Any Difference is a team of experts in the field of "Difference Between" topics and led by Sandeep Bhandari, Piyush Yadav and Chara Yadav. Trusted by over 1.5 million readers worldwide
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