Ethernet is a local area technology, with networks traditionally operating within a single building, connecting devices in close proximity. At most, Ethernet devices could have only a few hundred meters of cable between them, making it impractical to connect geographically dispersed locations. Modern advancements have increased these distances considerably, allowing Ethernet networks to span tens of kilometers.
In networking, the term protocol refers to a set of rules that govern communications. Protocols are to computers what language is to humans. Since this article is in English, to understand it you must be able to read English. Similarly, for two devices on a network to successfully communicate, they must both understand the same protocols.