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Extenders, converters among best tools for increasing Ethernet's reach

By Donna Donnawitz
August 10, 2012
Using copper cables to carry network traffic to end users is fairly simple in many office and home environments. But what do businesses do when they have a retail warehouse store that needs connectivity? Large retail stores and factories present distance barriers to using copper cabling as the primary architecture for the network. Similarly, organizations attempting to use sensors or IP cameras to monitor systems ranging over large tracts of land, such as an oil pipeline, cannot easily get by with copper alone, Plant Engineering reported.

According to the news source, copper cabling's 100 meter limitation is extremely problematic in many operational settings because organizations often need to connect devices and equipment spread beyond that range. There are, however, a variety of ways to accomplish this without incurring excess cost. At the top of the list of necessary tools are Ethernet extenders and media converters.

The report explained that Ethernet extenders can be one of the most affordable options for companies looking to bring copper cabling beyond 100 meters. The technology transfers the network signal into a DSL format, allowing it to be carried over any form of copper cabling, adding approximately 1,900 meters to the system's range depending on the specifics of the setup.

However, there are some limitations to using extenders, as the all-copper infrastructure can create performance limitations, electromagnetic interference can get in the way and harsh weather conditions often become problematic. The news source explained that many organizations, therefore, use fiber-optic cable infrastructure. Generally, optics are used when the network has to go beyond the 1,900 meter limitation of extenders, but can provide important performance capabilities that make the technology application for shorter distances as well. To employ such a solution to extend the network, companies have to use fiber-to-Ethernet media conversion to effectively convert the electromagnetic signal that flows through copper cables to light or laser form, which is what travels through fiber.

Optical networking systems are increasingly becoming important for more functions than just extending the network. Many experts agree that the rise of cloud computing, virtualization and mobile technologies is creating an environment in which optical networking is needed to support performance demands within data center and some office networks. As a result, media conversion can help companies maximize cost-efficiency by letting them only use fiber where needed, while still retaining copper systems for many purposes. Otherwise, a complete switch to fiber would be necessary.

Perle has an extensive range of Managed and Unmanaged Fiber Media Converters to extended copper-based Ethernet equipment over a fiber optic link, multimode to multimode and multimode to single mode fiber up to 160km.


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