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Will Media Converter Exit the Market?

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Margaret

Posted on January 6, 2020
November 24, 2020
904

Media converter has gained increasing popularity in optical fiber communications over these years. But some people hold the opinion that fiber media converter may gradually become obsolete, as fibers have been deployed more widely. Will media converter exit the market? Definitely, the answer can be “No”. Instead, the global media converter market shows a strong momentum of growth, and media converters are now under positive optimization and development.

Media Converter Market: Why Continue to Boom?

The driving factors for the prosperity of media converter market come from many aspects.

Firstly, using media converters with existing Ethernet switches costs significantly less than upgrading to network switches with optical transceivers, which can be an economical choice for small network environments.

Secondly, their performances and technologies are becoming relatively mature and diversified, which can adapt to the changes of ever-growing network demands. The table below shows the functions of managed media converters and unmanaged media converters.

Types Functions
Unmanaged Media Converter
  • Auto-negotiation for full/half-duplex.

  • Auto MDI/MDI-X.

  • IEEE802.3x (full-duplex flow control) and backpressure (half-duplex back-pressure flow control).

  • DIP switch (LFP, Store and Forward, forced 100Mbps).

Managed Media Converter
  • Auto-negotiation for full/half-duplex.

  • Auto MDI/MDI-X.

  • IEEE802.3x (full-duplex flow control) and backpressure (half-duplex back-pressure flow control).

  • SNMP/Web.

  • VLAN.

Table 1: Functions of Managed and Unmanaged Media Converters.

Thirdly, it can increase network flexibility by allowing new devices to be added into the original cabling infrastructure, and it can also be inserted almost anywhere in the network, which can well accommodate future network requirements.

Fourthly, media converter has been widely used in a variety of fields, such as telecommunications, education, electricity, medical care, Internet etc. It can get Ethernet to individual homes, provide power for some remote devices such as IP cameras and access points, and is especially important for some harsh environments such as mines and factories.

Thus, even if universal deployment of fiber is achieved, media converters will still be needed. And they will get further developments and improvements based on new requirements of users.

Media Converter Market: What Are the Development Trends?

Based on current developments of media converters, network designers and engineers are making efforts in both technologies and functionality.

Lower Costs: Power consumption is much valued by users especially for large data centers, as lower power dissipation means lower design prices and power costs, which is what engineers have been working at. Moreover, the port number of media converter needs to be added, which can save costs for large networks dealing with a mass of devices. Additionally, the continual developments of optic fiber technologies will also reduce the cost of media converters to some extent.

Higher Data Rates: Current fiber media converters are mostly 10/100/1000Mbps, and some vendors provide 10G converters. 10G media converters have SFP+/XFP ports, allowing faster network access over longer distances and offering more possibilities for connecting devices and users to your network. This is mainly used in large data centers now, but higher data rates will also be required by more users for network upgrades in the future.

Smarter Functions: Current managed media converters are capable of network monitoring, fault warning through the network management platform, but unmanaged media converters are not intelligent enough, which is controlled through the DIP switch. Thus breakthroughs should be made in this regard. What’s more, troubleshooting and auto negotiation need to be improved. As many media converters are transparent to the network or often located at remote sites, when problems occur in cabling, troubleshooting can be difficult for network managers. In addition, network managers often upgrade some equipment or deploy hardware with higher data rates in an attempt to future-proof their networks. Thus better auto negotiation can help to solve compatibility issues.

Conclusion

Media converter will not exit the market. The future media converter market is promising due to its wide applications together with the great demands of fiber networks. According to higher requirements of specific network environments, the development trends of media converter market may be lower costs, higher data rates and smarter functions.

Related Article: Managed vs Unmanaged Media Converter: How to Choose?