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MAC Media access control

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MAC Media access control

A sublayer of the OSI Data Link layer (Layer 2) that controls the way multiple devices use the same media channel. It controls which devices can transmit and when they can transmit. For most network architectures, each device has a unique address that is sometimes referred to as the MAC address.

Network-adapter cards such as Ethernet, Token Ring, and FDDI cards are assigned addresses when they are built. A MAC address is 48 bits represented by six sections of two hexadecimal digits. No two cards have the same MAC address. The IEEE helps to achieve the unique addresses by assigning the first half to manufacturers so that no two manufacturers have the same first three bytes in their MAC address. The MAC address is also called the hardware address.

See also media access control (MAC) address.

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