What is a Media Access Control (MAC) Address?

A media access control address is unique alphanumerical sequence of characters that is given to network interface for the specific task of communication along a segment of a physical network. The media access control address (MAC) is an advanced technology that is used in IEEE 802 network standards. IEEE802 standards involve both Local Area Connections and Metro area networks. A Metropolitan area network (MAN) is a larger network that may include an entire city or a campus, such as those networks that are found at a University.

The Media Access Control Address is usually issued by manufacturers who produce network interface cards (NIC.) A Network Interface Card is a device that is used to connect computers within a network. These devices are typically used in networks such as a Local Area Network and may be either wireless or connected directly to computers via cables. These devices are what enable computers to communicate within a network setting. What is important to realize is that the Media Access Control Address is contained within these devices and that they are installed there as part of the manufacturing process.

Network nodes often have many different Media Access Control Address, and like IP Address, each Media Access Control Address (MAC) must be unique to each Network Interface Card (NIC) within the network.

A Media Access Control number is displayed in this format: xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx where each grouping of x in the example would represent up to 8 bits of information. Because there are six groupings of x, this is considers a 48bit sequence. It is not uncommon to see the number 48 incorporated into the products name. It is also possible to see the number 64 which would mean the product was 64 bit. While 48 bit products are used normal ethernet networks, wireless networks, bluetooth, and other connection types. 64 bit MAC addresses are used in devices that utilize firewire, IPv6, and wireless personal networks.

While the Media Access Control Address is useful it is produced and installed by manufactures. MAC addresses have nothing specifically to do with MAC computers though the devices that connect a MAC computer network or a MAC computer to a network will utilize a Media Access Control Address. In short, a MAC address is used by networks not specifically by one type of computer over another type of computer.

Media Access Control Address topics are usually handled by networking experts. They are complicated in what they do, but because they are installed by a manufacture into a device they can be fairly easy to use. Remember that they are used to in the interface of connection devices between one computer and another.

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