Most people own more than one electrical device with an Ethernet Port which they want to connect to the Internet. However, people nowadays usually connect their devices via Wi-Fi as it wireless and lets you walk around freely, while using the internet. Following that trend, most routers come with only 3 or 4 Ethernet-Ports. The router is the network device usually supplied by your Internet provider which acts as bridge between your device and the Internet. In case you do have more than 3 or 4 devices with an Ethernet Port and you want them all be able to connect to your network via Ethernet Cable, you need to decide if you want to upgrade your network with an Ethernet Splitter or install an Ethernet Switch.
Each device serves a different purpose and in this guide I want to explain the function of each device.
What Is An Ethernet Splitter
Most home networks nowadays are able to transfer 1000Mbit per second via Ethernet. For the router to be able to send files with 1000Mbit per second, via Ethernet, you need a router that supports 1000Mbit and Ethernet Cables that support 1000Mbit/s. This is the case in probably 90% of most home networks nowadays. If you take a closer look at an Ethernet Cable you will see 8 wires, connected to small pins. In order for 1000Mbit/s to work all 8 wires will be used. It is however possible to only use 4 of those for one device and leave 4 wires for another device. This way you could connect 2 devices with one Ethernet Cable, to the Internet. Splitting this one connection into 2 would also lower the transfer speed down to 100Mbit per second.
This is the point where you would need an Ethernet Splitter. The Ethernet Splitter is taking all 8 wires of the 1000Mbit/s-Connection and splits it up into 2 or 4 or more – 100Mbit/s-Connections depending on the number of ports on your splitter.
The difference from an Ethernet Splitter to a Switch or Hub (which is rarely used nowadays) is that it does not need a power supply, is easy to install (just plug it in) and needs no configuration.