What is a Collision Domain?

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A computer network can be segmented physically but also logically. A collision domain is one of the logical network segments in which the data packets can collide to each other. One of the most common protocols used when referring to a collision domain is the Ethernet protocol. Collision domains are often referred as ‘Ethernet segments’.

The term of ‘collision domain’ is also used when describing the circumstances in which a single network device sends packets throughout a network segment and forces every other device in that network segment to pay attention to those packets.

CSMA/CD and Collision Domains
A collision domain can also be a group of Ethernet/Fast Ethernet devices in a Local Area Network running on the Carrier Sense Multiple Access/Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) feature and being connected through repeaters, thus competing for network access. Since only one device in the same collision domain can transmit data at a certain point, the other devices in the network simply listen in order to avoid data collisions.

CSMA/CD is a set of rules telling each network devic-e when to transmit and when to stop transmitting data. When someone in the network wants to transmit something, it “listens” to the network at first in order to see if anyone else is using the channel. If no one else is transmitting, the device will go forward with its own transmission.

The usage of CSMA/CD is an efficient way of avoiding network collisions, but it's not foolproof. It's obvious that if two devices follow the exact same procedure at the exact same time, their transmissions will 100% collide, and they will both become unusable. A jam signal will be sent in order to let everyone else know that a collision took place and they should not send any data. The hosts that collided will each start a random timer, and when that ends, each host will begin to listen on the network again.

Of course, the more collisions in a network, the less efficient the network is.

‘Collision domain’ sometimes reffers to a system where a unique identifier is open for multiple interpretations over different layers. The analogy to our ethernet collision domain is very clear if not obvious.

A collision occurs when two or more network devices are trying to transmit packets at the exact same time.

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