Fiber Media Converter Tutorial
Fiber media converter is a cost-effective solution to overcome the bandwidth and distance limitations of traditional network cable. It dramatically increases the bandwidth and transmission distance of the local area network (LAN) by allowing the use of fiber and integrating new equipment into existing cabling infrastructure. To better understand it, this article will give an overview of fiber media converter.
What is Fiber Media Converter?
Fiber media converter is a transfer media that connects two dissimilar media types. Generally, it is a device that converts electrical signal used in copper unshielded twisted paired (UTP) network cabling into light waves used in fiber optic cabling, and vice versa. This kind of fiber media converter is called copper-to-fiber media converter that provides a simple way to introduce fiber into a LAN without tearing out the existing copper wiring or making changes to copper-based switches. Furthermore, there is another kind of fiber media converter that supports fiber-to-fiber conversion, which provides connections between dual-fiber and single-fiber or between multimode fiber and single-mode fiber. Fiber-to-fiber media converters also provide a cost-effective solution for wavelength conversion in Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) applications, which are also known as transponders.
Types of Fiber Media Converters
There are a wide variety of fiber media converters available in the market. According to different criteria, fiber media converters may be classified into different types.
Managed VS Unmanaged
The managed fiber media converter has the functions of networking monitoring, fault detection and remote management. It helps the network administrator to easily monitor and manage the network. An unmanaged fiber media converter, however, allows for simple communication with other devices and does not have the monitoring and management functions that managed fiber media converter has.
Platform: Stand-Alone VS Modular Chassis-Based
According to the platform type, fiber media converters can be divided into stand-alone fiber media converter and modular chassis-based fiber media converter. Stand-alone fiber media converters are designed to be used in where a single or limited number of converter(s) need(s) to be quickly implemented. Modular chassis-based fiber media converters, however, are used in high-density applications that multiple points of copper and/or fiber integration are essential.
Copper-to-Fiber Media Converter VS Fiber-to-Fiber Media Converter
According to media types, fiber media converters may be classified into copper-to-fiber media converter and fiber-to-fiber media converter.
Copper-to-Fiber Media Converter
Copper-to-fiber media converters are the key to integrating fiber into a copper infrastructure. According to different applications, copper-to-fiber media converters may be further divided into Ethernet copper-to-fiber media converters, video-to-fiber media converters and serial-to-fiber media converters.
Ethernet Copper-to-Fiber Media Converter
This kind of fiber media converter supports the IEEE 802.3 standard and provides connectivity for Ethernet, fast Ethernet, Gigabit and 10 Gigabit Ethernet devices. SC to RJ45 media converters, SFP to RJ45 media converters, PoE media converters, mini media converters and industrial media converters are all among this type.
Video Copper-to-Fiber Media Converter
Video copper-to-fiber media converter also called fiber optic multiplexer, which is used to transmit and receive signals such as video, audio, data and Ethernet. fiber optic multiplexers are devices that process two or more light signals through a single optical fiber (as shown in the following figure), increasing the amount of information that can be carried through a network. Since signals may be analog or digital, video copper-to-fiber can be further divided into converters transmitting analog signals and converters transmitting digital signals. As the name applies, converters transmitting analog signals give amplitude or frequency modulation of the electric signal and then convert it into optical signal. Demodulation will also be done at the receiving end. Converters transmitting digital signals, however, digitize and multiplex the video, audio and data signals, transforming multiple low-speed digital signals into one high-speed signal. This high speed signal will then be turned into optical signal transmitting on a fiber.
In accordance with different applications, there are three commonly used video copper-to-fiber media converters: plesiochronous digital hierarchy (PDH) multiplexers, synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH) multiplexers and synchronous plesiochronous sigital hierarchy (SPDH) multiplexers. Using the PDH fiber transmission technologies, PDH multiplexers are E1 point-to-point optical transport equipment. And the general transmission capacity of this kind of multiplexer is 4E1，8E1 and 16E1. SDH multiplexers, having a large transmission capacity, are designed to support end-to-end provisioning and management of services across all segments of the optical network. SPDH multiplexers adopt both PDH and SDH technologies. It is a PDH transmission system that based on the PDH code speed adjustment principle at the same time, use as far as possible parts of the SDH network technology.
Serial-to-Fiber Media Converter
This kind of media converter provides fiber extension for serial protocol copper connections. It accepts serial data on one port in RS232, RS485 or other format and convert the serial data stream into a fiber optic signal to a matching unit at the other end of the fiber span.
Fiber-to-Fiber Media Converter
Fiber-to-fiber media converters are used to extend network distance by providing connectivity between multimode and single-mode fiber, between different “power” fiber sources and between dual fiber and single-fiber. Furthermore, they also support conversion from one wavelength to another. Mode converter and WDM OEO transponder are two common types of fiber-to-fiber media converters.
A mode converter can be used to allow for an adiabatic transition between two optical modes. Other than cross-connecting different fiber types, mode converters can also re-generate optical signals, extending transmission distance and double fiber cable usage. It is usually applied in multi-mode to single-mode fiber conversion.
WDM OEO Transponder
When a fiber media converter is used in the WDM system, it is called WDM OEO transponder which converts the incoming signal from the end or client device to a WDM wavelength. WDM OEO transponders are often used for dual fiber to single fiber conversion and wavelength conversion.
Networks may require conversion between dual and single-fiber, depending in the type of equipment and the fiber installed in the facility. The following figures shows the role of WDM transponder played in the fiber optic network.
WDM OEO transponders are capable of wavelength conversion by using small form-factor pluggable (SFP) transceivers that transmit different wavelengths, provide a cost-effective solution to convert from standard optical wavelengths (850nm, 1310nm and 1550nm) of legacy equipment to optical wavelengths specified for WDM networks.
Selection Guide of Fiber Media Converters
A proper fiber media converter may provide a cost-effective solution for extending Ethernet transmission while reducing cable and labor cost. When selecting fiber media converters for your network, the following points should be taken into consideration: