Ethernet rules state that a station must detect and report collisions between the furthest points in the network before the source completes its frame transmission. Specifically, for a legacy 10 Mbps Ethernet, this must all occur within 51.2 microseconds. Why 51.2 microseconds? The time is based on the smallest frame size for Ethernet, which corresponds to the smallest time window to detect and report collisions. The minimum frame size for Ethernet is 64 bytes, which has 512 bits. Each bit time is 0.1 microseconds in length, which is calculated from one over Ethernet's data rate (1/106). Therefore, the slot time for Ethernet is 0.1 microseconds/bit x 512 bits or 51.2 microseconds.
A network that violates the slotTime rules by extending the network to distances that require more than 51.2 microseconds experience late collisions, which can cause the network to malfunction. When a station transmits, it retains the frame in a local buffer until it either transmits the frame successfully (that is, without a collision) or the deferral counter threshold is exceeded. We previously discussed the deferral counter situation. Assume that a network administrator overextends the network in Figure 1-3 by inserting too many repeaters or by deploying segments that are too long. When Station 1 transmits, it assumes that the frame successfully transmitted if it experiences no collision by the time that it transmits 64 octets. Once the frame believes that it was successfully transmitted, the frame is eliminated from buffers leaving no opportunity to retry. When the network overextends the slotTime, the source might learn of a collision after it transmits the first 64 octets. But no frame is in the buffer at this point to resend, because the source thought that the transmission was successful!