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What Is Media Converter and How to Choose It?

Updated on Dec 17, 2021 by
26.6k

As local area networks (LANs) expand, there is a need to connect devices that use different media types, such as twisted pair and fiber optics. Distances within the network also began to exceed the inherent limitations of traditional copper cabling, the media converter arrived on the scene.

 

What is a media converter?

A media converter, also known as a fiber optic media converter, is a network device that connects two different types of media, such as twisted pair and fiber optic cabling. It extends the network's transmission distance by converting data signals from electrical signals (copper) to optical signals (fiber optics) without causing signal degradation. Such devices play a vital role in modern networks, ensuring compatibility and integration between traditional cabling systems and newer high-speed fiber optic technologies. Available in a variety of form factors and supporting different data transmission rates, they are versatile tools for expanding and maintaining network infrastructure.

The Benefits of Media Converters

  • Extend Communication Distance
Media converters can significantly extend the reach of a network by converting electrical signals over copper cables to optical signals for fiber-optic cables, which can carry data much farther without losing signal quality.
 
  • Cost-effective
Media converters facilitate the integration of different network types and technologies, enabling a seamless migration from traditional copper networks to the new technology of fiber optic networks, so you can continue to use your existing cabling infrastructure while expanding or upgrading your network without a complete overhaul.
 
  • Enhanced Security
Fiber optic connections are less susceptible to electromagnetic interference (EMI) and eavesdropping than copper, so using a media converter to convert to a fiber optic network improves overall security.
 
  • Flexibility and Scalability
Fiber media converters are versatile devices that can be used to connect different types of network media, such as copper to fiber, multimode to single-mode, or one type of fiber to another. In addition, media converters are compact and easy to deploy, so you can quickly add new devices to expand your network!

Types of Media Converters

Copper to Fiber Media Converter

Copper to fiber media converters enable connections of copper-based Ethernet devices over extended distances via a fiber optic link, which protects data from noise and interference and future-proofs a network with additional bandwidth capacity. Copper to fiber media converter includes Ethernet ones providing connectivity for Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit, and 10 Gigabit Ethernet devices, ideal for point-to-point connections.

Extend the network distance of Gigabit Fiber Links.jpg

Fiber to Fiber Media Converter

Fiber to fiber media converters connect different fiber optic networks and support conversion from one wavelength to another. They provide connections between multimode and single-mode fibers, as well as between dual-fiber and single-fiber cables.

Multimode to Single-mode Conversion.jpg

 

PoE Media Converter

PoE media converters achieve reliable and cost-effective fiber distance extension for PoE-powered devices, providing power to network devices over the same copper cable used for data. It can power devices like IP phones, video conferencing equipment, IP cameras and WiFi devices over copper cabling. Thus, it is widely used for connecting security cameras and wireless access points in some inaccessible areas to Gigabit backbone.

PoE Media Converter.jpg

 

Commercial vs. Industrial Media Converter

Commercial media converters with operating temperatures of -10˚C to 55˚C are ideal for typical office and data center environments with controlled ambient temperatures. Industrial media converters, on the other hand, are designed for harsh environments offering efficient media conversion in extreme temperatures from -40˚C to 85˚C, high shock and vibration conditions. They are commonly used in building automation, oil and gas drilling and mining, traffic management, weather tracking, and other industrial and outdoor applications.

Commercial vs. Industrial Media Converter.jpg

Standalone vs. Chassis-Based Media Converter

Stand-alone media converters are compact, and easy to deploy, saving lots of costs and space. It is suitable for applications in environments with limited space such as telecommunication cabinets or a distribution box. Chassis-based media converters include a number of independent media converters and a chassis capable of housing a dozen of converters. It is convenient for management when many converters are needed in a large network. Thus they are used in high-density spaces such as data centers or computer rooms, mounted in racks with network switches.

h3 class="new_community_detaile_section_h3 new_community_detaile_section_h3_1">Standard vs Mini Media Converter

The chips of mini media converters are better than those of standard ones. Its advantages are DIP (dual in-line package) switch functions, which can satisfy different needs. Due to the compact size, mini media converters are much welcomed in large network environments.

Unmanaged vs Managed Media Converter

Unmanaged media converters are plug-and-play, making it easy to install and troubleshoot for newbies. It allows simple communication with other devices but does not have monitoring and management functions. For small companies or campuses that require simple use and management, the unmanaged media converter is good enough. Managed media converters have the functions of networking monitoring, fault detection and remote management, enabling network administrators to completely control the data, bandwidth and traffic. However, they are more costly. For complex environments such as large data centers and enterprise networks, managed media converters are preferable choices for better management, security and reliability.

Conclusion

When choosing a media converter for your network, you should consider factors such as the type of network media you need to connect to, the distance between devices, the bandwidth and speed required, and more. It is better to consider the future network requirements before choosing suitable media converters.

 

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