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Media conversion critical to networking's future

By Max Burkhalter
September 26, 2012
Telecom networks are increasingly built on fiber. If you look around the web for news about new telecom installation projects, you might get a few pieces here and there about upgrading DSL or cable internet lines, but more often than not, the focus will be on fiber to the premises, fiber to the node and other advanced network formats built on fiber.

You may also notice that this issue is somewhat divisive among industry experts. From a technology-focused perspective, fiber is downright exciting. It enables almost unlimited bandwidth and provides speed capabilities that leave copper cabling sitting in the corner, ashamed that it can't keep up. However, the economic outlook on fiber-optic cabling isn't as black and white. While fiber is much better than copper, the price difference for installation and sometimes lackluster consumer adoption of high-performance broadband options that require fiber create complications.

As if the complexity of aligning fiber installation with consumer demand in specific regions was not problematic enough, telecoms increasingly have to deal with the rising number of consumers seeking to connect smartphones and tablets to the network, either through mobile connectivity options or Wi-Fi.

All of these factors combine to make the whole fiber-optic cable network installation process complex for now, but many experts agree that FTTH is the future, simply because the optical connectivity will be needed to provide backhaul for home broadband use, mobile devices and other consumer solutions.

With the future being fiber-based in telecom networks, an interesting dynamic is developing in that few, if any, homes actually have internal fiber networks. Furthermore, computers, televisions, Wi-Fi routers and other connected devices use Ethernet and can't connect directly to fiber. In these instances, copper is still king and probably will stay that way for quite some time. Internal home networks simply don't need fiber for anything but backhaul. This is making fiber to Ethernet media converters vital in enabling the future of the network, as telecom infrastructure increasingly needs to be based in fiber, especially moving forward, but copper will continue dominate in-home infrastructure.

Because of this, getting the fiber infrastructure to interact with Ethernet is critical, but may only be half the battle in the near future. With FTTH becoming more common and consumers demanding better connectivity, telecoms that use advanced media conversion tools with sophisticated capabilities could end up gaining an edge in the market.

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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