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Data communications equipment (DCE) refers to computer hardware devices used to establish, maintain and terminate communication network sessions between a data source and its destination. DCE is connected to the data terminal equipment (DTE) and data transmission circuit (DTC) to convert transmission signals.
IT vendors may also refer to data communications equipment as data circuit-terminating equipment or data carrier equipment
A modem is a typical example of data communications equipment. In general, data communications equipment is used to perform signal exchange, coding and line clocking tasks as a part of intermediate equipment or DTE.
Some additional interfacing electronic equipment may also be needed to pair the DTE with a transmission channel or to connect a circuit to the DTE. DCE and DTE are often confused with each other, but these are two different device types that are interlinked with an RS-232 serial line.
DTE and DCE connectors are wired differently if a single straight cable is employed. DCE generates internal clock signals, while DTE works with externally provided signals. Without employing a modem, the DCE and DTE can be connected through a crossable cable medium like a null modem for Ethernet or typical RS-232 serial line. Many modems are DCE, while the computer terminal is DTE.