How Ethernet Works

Routers: Logical Segmentation

Bridges can reduce congestion by allowing multiple conversations to occur on different segments simultaneously, but they have their limits in segmenting traffic as well.

An important characteristic of bridges is that they forward Ethernet broadcasts to all connected segments. This behavior is necessary, as Ethernet broadcasts are destined for every node on the network, but it can pose problems for bridged networks that grow too large. When a large number of stations broadcast on a bridged network, congestion can be as bad as if all those devices were on a single segment.


Routers are advanced networking components that can divide a single network into two logically separate networks. While Ethernet broadcasts cross bridges in their search to find every node on the network, they do not cross routers, because the router forms a logical boundary for the network.

Routers operate based on protocols that are independent of the specific networking technology, like Ethernet or token ring (we'll discuss token ring later). This allows routers to easily interconnect various network technologies, both local and wide area, and has led to their widespread deployment in connecting devices around the world as part of the global Internet.

See How Routers Work for a detailed discussion of this technology.