A Network interface card, NIC, or Network card is an electronic component that connects a computer to a computer network, usually a LAN. It is considered a piece of computer hardware. Today, most computers are equipped with network cards. Network cards enable a computer to exchange data with the network. To achieve the connection, network cards use a suitable protocol, for example CSMA/CD. Network cards usually implement the first two layers of the OSI model, that is the physical layer, and the data link layer. Today, most network cards use Ethernet. Other network types are ARCNET, introduced in 1977, LocalTalk or Token Ring.
Network cards for wireless networking[change | edit source]
Some network cards do not use a cable to connect to the network, but an antenna. They commonly use a number of protocols called IEEE 802.11. People who are not computer scientists usually call IEEE802.11 Wireless LAN or Wi-Fi. Bluetooth is another way of wireless communication, usually over a short distance.