Media converters are used in every industry imaginable; they are a centerpiece of the enterprise networking toolkit. Network managers need data to travel at faster speeds over longer distances. To do this, they face the additional challenge of the connectivity of different cable types.
A media converter is a flexible and economical solution for implementing and optimizing fiber links in all types of networks. Most media converters operate as transceivers, and as such, they convert electrical signals into light waves.
When the distance between two network devices surpasses the maximum copper cabling distance, fiber optic connectivity is needed. Simply put: media converters enable two network devices with copper ports to be connected over an extended distance via fiber optic cabling.
• Are accessible as Physical Layer or Layer 2 switching devices
• Provides advanced switching functions such as rate-switching and Virtual Local Network (VLAN) tagging
• Convert wavelengths from Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) applications
When media converters are installed in enterprise, government, data center, and telecom Fiber to the x (FTTX) networks, they are considered the “Swiss army knife” of networking.
Local Area Networks (LANs) get very complicated these days. They need to transmit data at higher speeds and to longer distances. Media converters offer a solution to these challenges by providing fiber when necessary and smoothly integrating new equipment into an existing cable infrastructure. Media converters are paramount when it comes to creating a reliable, cost-effective network. There are many benefits to the utilization of a media converter. Here is a list of the major ones:
• Speed: Media converters help get tasks done in the fastest way possible.
• More extensive networks: Media converters allow network managers to integrate new equipment into an existing cable infrastructure with increased quality and strength.
• Economical: As media converters integrate fiber and copper networks, there is no need to install a great deal of expensive new infrastructure.
• Less electromagnetic interference: With a media converter, the path between copper and fiber is gentle, which reduces electromagnetic interference considerably.
Media Converters can support sophisticated functions. They can:
• Support integrated switch technology for Ethernet networks at switching rates of 10/100 and 10/100/1000
• Support functions like VLAM, Quality of Service (QoS) prioritization, Port Access Control, and Bandwidth Control
• Facilitate new data, voice, and video deployment to users
• Reduce capital equipment expenditures (CAPEX) by preserving legacy equipment by enabling connectivity between existing servers, switches, routers, and hubs—or by allowing Wave Division Multiplexing (WDM) through wavelength conversion
• Reduce network operating expenditures (OPEX) by providing remote network configuration and troubleshooting in distant locations where personnel is limited
Because there are various reasons it is not possible to directly connect two devices or LANs (such as dissimilar operation types, speeds, media types, or modes), a media converter is essential and must be designed to meet these various needs. Therefore, there are a large variety of types of media converters to choose from. To enable you to select the right kind of media converter for your network, we will discuss the different types of media converters available on the market:
Media converters come in three different styles:
Another aspect to consider when choosing a media converter is whether it is unmanaged or managed. Here is a snapshot of each kind:
There is another way that media converters distinguish themselves—one the basis of transmission.
Media converters employ one of these two major conversion categories:
Ethernet is used to connect various devices and is by far the most widely used LAN technology. The most common Ethernet system is Ethernet (10Mb) which uses twisted pair or fiber optic l cabling for connectivity and transmits data at 10 Megabits per second (Mbps).
Here are other media converter protocols you need to know about:
In addition to the Ethernet protocols discussed above, media converter support the following Network Protocols:
Techopedia defines a switch as follows:
A switch, in the context of networking, is a high-speed device that receives incoming data packets and redirects them to their destination on a local area network (LAN).
A LAN switch operates at the data link layer (Layer 2) or the network layer of the OSI Model, and, as such, it can support all types of packet protocols. The Layer 2 switch is also sometimes called a bridge: its function is to send frames containing data packets between nodes or segments of a network.
Essentially, switches are the traffic cops of a simple local area network. Switching establishes the trajectory for the frames as the data units and how the data moves from one area of a network to another.
Media converters are often switches, and switches are often media converters—and both devices are continually described in terms of Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) layers.
So, just what is going on?
These waters get murky. Most of the confusion is due to the evolution of the devices themselves. OSI Layer 1 media converters have evolved to meet basic switch functions (Layer 2)—while switches are rapidly moving toward Layer 3 and Layer 4, areas that were formerly only handled by routers.
The upshot is that media converters and switches have a lot in common. So, how do you choose?
Fiber media converters are used when existing Ethernet cables are not adequate to cover a transmission distance, and budgetary limits are at play. They can also be used for the construction of LANs and MANs.
With network switches, you can add more wired devices to the network. Also, switches keep the traffic between two devices from interfering with other devices on the network.
One last word on this: A fiber media converter is primarily for copper-to-fiber conversion to extend transmission length, while switches are most often used to connect network devices for data-sharing and communication.
With the push for more speed over longer distances and the additional challenges of interconnecting different cable types, choosing the best solution is confusing. Both media converters and Ethernet extenders can be a feasible solution as they both support a wide array of protocols, data rates, and media types that comfortably integrate into a variety of network infrastructures.
As previously stated, media converters are economical devices mainly used for copper-to-fiber or fiber-to-fiber connections to extend transmission distances and improve transmission quality. Fiber media converters add fiber cabling to legacy copper cabling systems, extending their lifespans; these media converters also provide the ability to upgrade networks and add new devices.
Ethernet extenders (also called network extenders or LAN extenders) convert Digital Simulation Language (DSL) and return signals to Ethernet, which results in the extension of a 10/100/1000 Ethernet connection.
These devices use single twisted pair (CAT5e/6/7) copper wiring or coaxial cabling and are mainly used in:
Here are some comparisons of media converters and Ethernet extenders to help you choose which device is best for you:
Media converters are used in every industry and sector.
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