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The main obstacle in adopting Ethernet-type networks for time-sensitive communications was the data transfer characteristic of these networks. With baud rates in the Gbyte per second range, the industry has started adopting the data packet based networks as a viable alternative, not only because of their lower cost. This paper presents an open-system approach, in which protective hardware equipment is designed to work in a clustered environment, sharing resources and diagnostic functions with similar units. The proposed network that connects the protective hardware is capable of accommodating transparently a wide range of protocols, and is well suited for industrial information technology applications. A suitable model was developed for the Ethernet network to be incorporated into power system simulation. This paper presents the performance of the proposed model using simulated power system data, confirming the viability of the proposed system.