What is the difference between USB and Ethernet?

Published 12/05/2004 11:00   |    Updated 20/10/2008 14:46

What is the difference between USB and Ethernet?

USB (universal serial bus) is a type of connection found on many devices (e.g. modems, digital cameras, network adapters, printers and scanners). It is used for connecting peripheral devices to computers.

A USB connector looks like this:

The USB port may be marked with this symbol: usb symbol.


Ethernet is a networking standard that is common in homes and offices all over the world. When using Ethernet for your home network you will need an Ethernet card or adapter in your computer.

An Ethernet cable is generally yellow or white with yellow ends and the connector looks like this:

The Ethernet port is normally marked LAN or 


All broadband routers currently supplied by BT Ireland support an Ethernet cable connection. Where possible it is recommended to use an Ethernet cable instead of using USB to connect your BT router to your computer. If you select to use an Ethernet connection then there is no need to install any driver software on your Apple Mac or Windows PC.


See also: Connecting a computer to a router using an Ethernet cable



What are the benefits of using Ethernet / Wireless routers?


Ethernet and wireless routers offer several advantages over USB modems:

  • more convenient to use (e.g. they can automatically reconnect in the event of a dropped connection)
  • ability to share broadband between multiple computers / devices
  • easier to set up and more reliable (no driver software to install)
  • independently powered - so you can connect secondary computers/devices to broadband without your primary computer being switched on
  • improved in-built diagnostics to help resolve problems
  • wireless capability - no need for unsightly cables between your router and computers or other devices (e.g. games consoles)

BT Ireland currently supply the Voyager 2110 Wireless ADSL Router, which lets you create a high speed wireless home network and share your Internet connection.


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