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DTE vs DCE | Difference between DTE and DCE

This page compares DTE (Data Terminal Equipment) vs DCE (Data Circuit Terminating Equipment) and describes difference between DTE and DCE. These terms are used for communication equipments utilizing communication network for information transmission and reception.

DTE-Data Terminal Equipment

• The equipment which terminates flow of information in any communication network is referred as DTE (Data Terminal Equipment).
• These equipments are located inside or near customer premises.
• These are purchased or owned by customers utilizing service.
• EXAMPLEs: Terminals, computers, laptops, routers, bridges etc.


DCE-Data Circuit Terminating Equipment

• The equipment which transport information over communication medium is referred as DCE (Data Circuit Terminating Equipment).
• These equipments are located in between DTE and communication medium (i.e. fiber cable, twisted pair).
• It takes care providing functions such as coding, clocking etc. for the information to be transmitted and received.
• It is also known by other names such as "Data Carrier Equipment" and "Data Carrier Equipment".
• EXAMPLES: Modem, Switch etc.

The protocol stack between DTE and DCE consists of two layers viz. PHYSICAL LAYER and Data Link Layer (or MAC layer).
Physical Layer specifies electrical, mechanical, functional and procedural specifications.
Data Link layer takes care of error detection and flow control between DTE and DCE.
Refer PHY vs MAC which describes functions of Physical layer and MAC layer.

The figure depicts two scenarios viz. frame relay and modem based communication. In example#1 , terminal is DTE and Packet switch is DCE. In example#2, terminal is DTE and Modem is DCE.

Following table mentions difference between DCE and DTE devices.

Data Communication Equipment Data Termination Equipment
Generates clock (i.e. as per speed) Accepts clock
Example#1 (In leased line setup) V.35 and G.703 modem & exchange (modem & MUX) acts as DCE Example#1 (In leased line setup) Router acts as DTE
Example#2 (In dial up setup), dialup modem acts as DCE Example#2 (In dial up setup) Computer acts as DTE

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