Purpose of a network interface card

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Purpose of a network interface card
Network Interface Cards are what connect a computer to a network. (Computer Network Interface Card image by Northwest Photo from Fotolia.com)

Network Interface Cards (NICs) are used by computers to communicate over a network. There are different types of NICs that use different technologies to connect to networks, such as Ethernet and Wi-Fi.

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Ethernet NICs

Ethernet NICs are used for wired Ethernet connections. In a common network, one end of the Ethernet cable is plugged into the Ethernet NIC, and the other is plugged into a router or networking hub.


Another common type of NIC is the wireless NIC. Wireless NICs connect to the network using a radio signal. Creating a wireless network requires a compatible wireless router or other wireless device.

MAC Addresses

NICs identify themselves on the network using their Media Access Control (MAC) address, a 6-byte hexadecimal number. Every NIC is assigned a unique MAC address, allowing the network to assign resources such as IP addresses or bandwidth to specific NICs.

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