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Media conversion can pay dividends in large indoor settings

By Max Burkhalter
December 13, 2012
Warehouse stores, factories, schools and other large facilities face a number of unique challenges when it comes to establishing the network. One of the greatest is balancing cost and performance to meet operational requirements without straining the budget. Media converters can play a vital role in overcoming this problem.

Considering large internal network deployments
When you are dealing with a large facility, you face the challenge of having to offer high-performance connectivity in a variety of areas to support operations. Security is also a vital consideration, which could cause operators to label Wi-Fi a potential risk. For example, a retail location needs to have network access at the checkout areas for point-of-sale devices, at the customer service desk, in any management offices and at various locations throughout the store for customer service applications, emergency systems and access control or security solutions. Furthermore, Wi-Fi is not only a security risk, it is also difficult to deploy because shelves and store displays can disrupt the signal and limit its range severely.

In this type of setting, cabling is generally considered the best option, but deploying infrastructure can be difficult. In most cases, copper cable used for internal Ethernet infrastructure can only extend 100 meters. This presents a major problem when connecting a variety of locations within a large facility.

Possible solutions and their limitations
You could just add extra switches and routers to the network to extend the distance of copper cabling beyond 100 meters. However, this would cost a lot of money, add complexity, impact performance and create maintenance challenges. An easier solution would be to use an all fiber network throughout the facility. While this reduces complexity, it also creates costs that can be staggering for many organizations. Wireless is an option, but setup, performance, range and security limitations come into play. In many instances, the most cost-effective and performance-friendly option is to use media converters.

Going the fiber to Ethernet route
By implementing fiber to Ethernet media converters, you can use fiber to span the long distances within facility, essentially creating a middle-mile connection. From there, you can turn to copper to connect things within range of the converter. This allows you to cost-effectively span the entire facility without sacrificing performance or creating complexity. It also improves security, as physical access to cables is necessary to steal data transmitted through them.

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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