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Everything you need to know about fiber media converters

By Max Burkhalter
July 11, 2021

Fiber media converters are networking devices capable of connecting two different media types. In most cases, they are used to connect twisted pair or coaxial cable to a fiber-optic cable, allowing the interconnection of newer fiber-optic networks and cable systems and older copper-based cabling systems. This permits partial upgrades of network infrastructure to fiber-optic technology, maintains the ability to connect to copper and other types of wired networks, and enhances fast Ethernet speeds.

Fiber vs copper
Traditional copper cables incur significant losses over extended lengths (100 meters being the outside edge of transmissibility). Repeaters must be installed to boost the signal. Connecting copper cables to a fiber-optic cable using a fiber media converter can increase transmission quality, since fiber doesn't have the short range restrictions copper is subject to. Fiber media converters can extend and interconnect local area networks, creating a larger conglomerate network. 

Solving the compatibility problem
Fiber media converters support multiple cable types such as

  • Coaxial
  • Twisted pair
  • Single- or multi-mode fiber-optic 

This allows you to connect to and use most data communication protocols, including:

  • Ethernet and Fast Ethernet
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • E3/DS3
  • T1/J1/E1

Fiber media converters range from standalone devices with a small footprint — perfect for closet of rack use — to PC card converters, to data center-ready, enterprise-grade high-port-density chassis systems with advanced networking management features.

Types of fiber media connectors
Copper to fiber converters let you connect copper-wired systems to fiber optic systems, usually speeding up your transmission coming out of and coming into a building or network. You can also have fiber-to-fiber connectors for times when you want to marry two networks together, or connect fiber to serial for better porting.

You can use multiple fiber media connectors to combine multiple LANs into one massive interconnected network, using managed or unmanaged solutions. Unmanaged connectors are purely plug and play, while managed connectors let you control things like prioritizing traffic and allocating bandwidth.

Power-over-Ethernet or PoE media converters deliver a fiber distance extension for PoE-powered devices, as well as power over the same internal copper cable being used for data. Devices that can be powered by PoE include:

  • IP phones and cameras
  • Videoconferencing equipment
  • Wi-Fi devices

PoE can also connect security cameras and wireless access points located in inaccessible areas to Gigabit backbone. 

Standalone fiber media converters have a tiny footprint and fit almost anywhere, such as a closet or telecom cabinet in a smaller IT room. Industrial chassis-based media converters are used in high-density spaces such as data centers or enterprise computer rooms.

Benefits of fiber media converters
According to FS community, fiber media converters can provide a convenient and cost-effective plug-and-play solution for the copper to fiber challenge. They are being deployed across industries and sectors, including campus LANs, enterprises, data centers, security surveillance, and government defense to provide connections between copper and fiber. 

Technavio points out that a complete revision of network cables from copper to fiber is technically difficult and can cause high capital expenditure (CapEx). Most installations have a large base of copper wiring  and utilize copper ports, making a changeover to fiber impractical and expensive. Using fiber media converters solves the problem with low CapEx and can significantly improve transmission quality.

Perle provides a full range of fiber media convertors for every application and use. They are compatible with Cisco switches and routers, and use high-end components from leading chip manufacturers to ensure product reliability. To learn more about our media convertor solutions, contact us today


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