When first widely deployed in the 1980s, Ethernet supported a maximum theoretical data rate of 10 megabits per second (Mbps). Later, so-called "Fast Ethernet" standards increased this maximum data rate to 100 Mbps. Today, Gigabit Ethernet technology further extends peak performance up to 1000 Mbps.
Higher level network protocols like Internet Protocol (IP) use Ethernet as their transmission medium. Data travels over Ethernet inside protocol units called frames.
The run length of individual Ethernet cables is limited to roughly 100 meters, but Ethernet networks can be easily extended to link entire schools or office buildings using network bridge devices.