If you have a network that uses the older type of copper cables and another network that utilizes faster and more reliable fiber optic cables, it is possible to connect them together by using a special product named Fiber Media Converter. A media converter changes signals on a copper cable to signals that run on fiber, make one cable “look” like another cable without changing the nature of the network. Due to this function, network executives who need to upgrade their systems from copper to fiber but don’t have the budget, manpower or time, just turn to media converters.
Fiber Optic Media Converter is a small device with two media-dependent interfaces and a power supply, simply receive data signals from one media, convert and transmit them to another media. It can be installed almost anywhere in a network. The style of connector depends on the selection of media to be converted by the unit. In a Fast Ethernet environment, a 100Base-TX to 100Base-FX Media Converter connects a 100Base-TX twisted-pair device to a 100Base-FX compliant single or multimode fiber port that has a fiber-optic connector. In a Gigabit Ethernet, a media converter commonly is deployed to convert multimode to single-mode fiber. Media converters are designed to be implemented in Ethernet networks and some ATM applications. Media converters are also playing a role in facilitating the optical last-mile connection to metropolitan-area networks.
How does a fiber optic media converter work?
Media converters work on the physical layer of the network. They receive data signals from one media and convert them to another while remaining invisible to data traffic and other net devices. They do not interfere with upper-level protocol information. This lets them support quality of service and Layer 3 switching.
Media converters change the format of an Ethernet-based signal on Cat-5 into a format compatible with fiber optics. At the other end of the fiber cable run, a second media converter is used to change the data back to its original format. One important difference to note between Cat-5 and fiber is that Cat-5 cables and RJ45 jacks are bidirectional while fiber is not. Thus, every fiber run in a system must include two fiber cables, one carrying data in each direction. These are typically labeled transmit (or Tx) and receive (or Rx).
Media Converters can function in either half-duplex or full duplex mode. Full duplex Ethernet over UTP runs at 20 or 200Mbps, while half-duplex Ethernet over UTP runs at either 10 or 100 Mbps. Full duplex Ethernet is especially valuable in linking two switches or connecting a switch to a file server. No adjustments are necessary when using either mode. A Fiber Optic Media Converter will automatically sense which mode is in operation.
There are several types of fiber optic media converters available, such as Ethernet Media Converter, 10/100/1000 Media Converters, Gigabit Ethernet Converter, Mulitmode Singlemode Media Converter, 10 Gigabit Ethernet Converter, Media Converter Rack Chassis, etc.
Fiber optic converter should be placed in a secure location that can not be disturbed by people or machinery. Every computer connected to the fiber optic cable will lose it’s internet connection if the converter is removed or broken. Converters contain special materials that only work properly in specific temperature ranges so it is important to keep them in controlled temperature rooms that never get too hot or cold.