The MAC sub-layer acts as an interface between the Logical Link Control (LLC) sublayer and the network's physical layer. The MAC layer emulates a full-duplex logical communication channel in a multipoint network. This channel may provide unicast, multicast or broadcast communication service.
An example of a physical network is an Ethernet network, perhaps extended by Wireless Local Area Networks (WLAN) accesspoints and WLAN network adapters, since these share the same 48-bit MAC address hierarchy as Ethernet.
The most widespread multiple access protocol is the contention based CSMA/CD protocol used in Ethernet networks. This mechanism is only utilized within a network collision domain, for example an Ethernet bus network or a hub network. An Ethernet network may be divided into several collision domains, interconnected by bridges and switches. A multiple access protocol is not required in a switched full-duplex network, such as today's switched Ethernet networks, but is often available in the equipment for compatibility reasons.
Examples of common multiple access protocols that may be used in packet radio wireless networks are:
For a more extensive list, see List of channel access methods.
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