Layer 2

What Does Layer 2 Mean?

Layer 2 refers to the second layer of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) Model, which is the data link layer.


Layer 2 is where data packets are encoded and decoded into actual bits. It is the protocol layer that enables the transfer of data between adjacent network nodes in a network segment, such as a local or wide area network.

Techopedia Explains Layer 2

Layer 2 provides the procedural and functional means for data transfer between network nodes and provides the means to detect and correct errors that may occur at the physical layer (Layer 1).

Ethernet, which is used for multi-node local area networks (LAN), is the best example of the data link layer protocol. Other protocols include Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), High-Level Data Link Control (HDLC) and Advanced Data Communication Control Procedures (ADCCP) for dual-node connections.

Layer 2 is mainly concerned with the local delivery of data frames between network devices on the same network or LAN, essentially bringing transmission protocol knowledge into the system, managing physical layer errors and fostering flow control and frame synchronization. It has two sublayers – logical link control (LLC) and media access control (MAC).

Major Layer 2 services include:

  • Encapsulation of data packets into frames
  • Frame synchronization
  • Error and flow control via the LLC sublayer
  • Physical or MAC addressing
  • Packet or LAN switching
  • Data packet scheduling
  • Virtual LANs

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…