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Wi-Fi doesn't really mean wireless, get your cables ready

By Max Burkhalter
February 1, 2013

Increasing use of Wi-Fi and mobile networks has many individual wondering how long they're going to have to worry about cabling architectures, media converters and similar devices. The answer, at least in most usage settings, is that they are going to have to use such systems for a long time.

Wi-Fi and mobile network terminology is often used interchangeably with the term "wireless." This is a bit of a misnomer, as these networks are not actually wireless.

Wires play key role in Wi-Fi and mobile networks
In a traditional enterprise network, the data center is set up with a core and access network, the access system sends data to the company LAN infrastructure through either MAN or WAN setups and end users get to data, applications and web services through the web. It's a simple scheme that involves lots of wires as infrastructure is needed to connect to each device and provide interconnections between buildings.

Using Wi-Fi infrastructure only eliminates a fraction of the cables involved in this setup. In most cases, a Wi-Fi system will use the company LAN as its backhaul network, getting the bandwidth it needs from the wired network.

Similarly, mobile networks depend heavily on fiber-optic cabling, media converters and advanced Ethernet systems to function properly. Generating radio signal requires backhaul. Generally speaking the backhaul network has to travel an extended distance to attach to telecom networks. As a result, the infrastructure is usually built as an optical network link. This is also necessary for bandwidth purposes, especially with the rise of advanced mobile services. There is little reason, however, to use fiber in the mobile tower itself, as it is a costly cabling format that is not extremely flexible. As a result, most telecoms will use a system that includes a radio signal antenna that is attached to a copper-based Ethernet system which, in turn, connects to optical systems and the wired network that serves as backhaul for other web functions.

Thinking about interoperability
Media converters are essential in a network world where lots of users are going wireless but plenty of networks are built on wires. Wires are a fundamental part of any network because they provide bandwidth and performance that wireless signals cannot handle. However, the specific deployment models of Wi-Fi and mobile networks make media converters and cabling tools essential for ongoing operations and continued innovation.

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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