– Your get out of jail card
Media converters are used to convert signals from 1 medium (copper) to another (fibre) and vice-versa. Whilst their function is well understood, their actual application in the real world is not.
The design of a network system takes many issues into account including the maximum length that a channel can go. For copper based systems such as Cat5E, Cat6 and Cat6A this length limit is 90 metres for the permanent link. Network designers go to great lengths to make sure that they do not exceed this limit. They position severs, switch rooms and outlets within 90 metres of each other.
During the installation of the network, practical or unexpected situations may alter the length of some of the links. For example a rack may need to be moved to the other side of a room to allow better access to the rear of the rack. Changes may result in one or two links extending beyond the 90 metre limit specified by the standards.
Regular network design philosophy would demand an extra server or switch to be installed but sometimes this is not possible, or just too costly.
What to do?
This is where a pair of media converters and a suitable length of duplex fibre optic cable come in handy and “get you out of jail”. They can convert the copper signal with its 90m limit to an optical-fibre signal that can go much longer distances. One media converter located in the server room or rack and another at the outlet/terminal device with a fibre link in between solves the problem. The link is transparent and for the most part appears as any other section of the network. Depending on what type of fibre is used, the link can go up to 500m with Multimode or up to several kilometres with Single mode.
So the next time you have an installation with 1 or 2 links that extend beyond the 90 metre copper limit, consider a pair of media converters and optical fibre cable as a possible solution.