Media converters play an important role in today’s multi-protocol, mixed media Local Area Networks (LAN). Media converters can be used to integrate fiber optic cabling and active equipment into existing copper structured cabling systems without increasing extra cost. Media converters are also important for the networks outside the LAN because of the electrical-to-optical conversion function which enable service providers to speed up the deployment and offer low cost Metro Area Networks (MAN) access service to customers.
At first, media converters are simple devices just used to connect two dissimilar media types such as twisted pair with fiber optic cabling. Today, category of media converters increases a lot. And the function of media converter is not single and can meet more requirements. Media converters including fiber to RJ45 converters, SFP Ethernet converters, OEO converters, mode converters, fiber video converters, etc. can be found in the market.
Now some LAN is still structured with twisted pair wiring. As a result, the transmission distance is greatly limited with only 100 meters. To extend the data transmission distance, fiber cable gains the popularity since it can support longer transmission distance and it’s more and more inexpensive. But in practice, copper is familiar and easier to be installed. Besides, many network devices still have copper ports. It would cost too much to replace all the expensive equipment with fiber optics. So media converter is applied to realize the copper & fiber conversion with the cheapest price. Media converters make it possible to migrate a local network to fiber while maintaining the existing infrastructure.
Figure 1. 10/100Base-T to 100base-FX Single Fiber Media Converter
When connecting legacy 10BASE-T network segments to a newer 100BASE-FX Fast Ethernet infrastructure, media converter is the best solution. With one RJ45 port and one SFP socket, this 10/100Base-T to 100base-X SFP Ethernet fiber media converter can mediate between 10/100M UTP ports and 100M optical fiber ports. And it can reduce electromagnetic interference and extend the distance up to 100 km. Media converters can support network speeds from 10 Mbps to 10 Gbps.
Figure 2. Media Converter Connecting Different Speed
Media converters are also used to expand the reach of the LAN to cover more locations. A converter can connect multiple LANs to form one large “campus area network” that spans over a limited geographic area. As premises networks are primarily copper-based, media converters can connect two distance switches with single-mode fiber and extend the reach of the LAN up to 130 km.
Existing data rate in the LAN backbone at 100Mbps or Gigabit speeds, fiber can accommodate high-bandwidth applications such as streaming media and voice over IP for more secure desktop connections. Media converters can make FTTD (fiber to the desktop) cost-effective in the LAN. With media converters, the cost of expensive fiber home which requires all-fiber switches, patch panels and network interface cards can be saved by converting in the telecommunications room and at the desktop.
Figure 3. Media Converters Make FTTD a Reality.
Ethernet is the dominate LAN protocol with the highest market penetration. Past 10/100Mbps connections in LAN can’t meet the demands for high-speed data traffic. With the publication of the 10, 40 and 100 Gigabit Ethernet standard, the applications space for Ethernet expands from the LAN to MAN.
Media converters are deployed in the MAN to provide the physical layer connection and to bridge the bandwidth gap that exists between LAN and MAN. In the LAN, the structured cabling is often twisted-pair copper cable or multi-mode fiber. While the cabling is often single-mode fiber in the MAN. So media converters are used at both ends of the first mile to provide the electrical-to-optical conversion from the POP (point of presence) switching router to single-mode fiber, and back to 10/100/1000BASE-T Ethernet at the customer premises. At the same time, if the customer needs to increase the internet speed, the bit rate can be increased through the POP switch and the converter will automatically adapt to the increased speed, avoiding a visit to the customer site or POP.
Media converters can realize the connections between copper switch ports and optical access to get more flexible and further. Media converters can support multiple types of media from copper to multimode and single-mode fiber. Single-mode converters cover distances up to 80 km with 1310nm optics and even 130 km with 1550 nm optics.
Media converters can also enhance the consistency of service. On one side, if there is any problem, the network administrator can troubleshoot one circuit and keep other customers’ connections running. On the contrary, if a fixed port switch goes down, all connections will be down simultaneously when repairing a faulty port. On the other side, customers can used the media converter as an optical demarcation point, which brings cost savings and simplicity.
Media converters make practical sense in both LAN and MAN applications with the benefits of copper and fiber conversion, speed conversion, saving cost, easy network troubleshooting, etc. With simple design, media converters are easy and cost-effective to deploy. It’s the best solution for the the optical demarcation between the LAN and MAN and bridging the bandwidth gap between the LAN and fiber optic backbone of service provider. FS.COM offers a wide range of cost-effective media converters. Any question, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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