How to Use a Media Converter in Your Network?

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A media converter is a device with a fiber interface at one end and a copper interface on the other. Read how you can use a media converter here.

Since the start of networking, media converters have played an important role in solving problems of network interconnection. Despite their benefits, there is huge confusion on how to use these devices. These devices provide flexibility to the networks by establishing a connection between copper and fiber cables.


What is a Media Converter?



A media converter is a device that connects and translates signals between optical fiber cabling and other media like an unshielded twisted-pair copper cable. It translates light signals to electronic signals and vice versa. Usually, a media converter is a two-port device with a fiber interface at one end and a copper interface on the other.

It also offers fiber-to-fiber conversions, from multimode fiber signals to single-mode signals. A media converter can also be used to convert a dual fiber link to a single link using a bi-directional data flow. Additionally, these devices can be used to convert between wavelengths for Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM). Generally, these devices are protocol specific and support a myriad of network types and data rates.


Types of Media Converters

There are several types of fiber-to-fiber and copper-to-fiber media converters supporting different data rates, network protocols, connectors, and cabling types.


Fiber-to-Fiber Media Converters

Fiber-to-fiber media converters provide connectivity between single-mode and multimode fiber and between single fiber and dual-fiber. Moreover, these converters also support conversion from one wavelength to another, including CWDM wavelengths and standard wavelengths. Fiber-to-fiber converters are generally protocol independent and are available for TDM and Ethernet applications.



Copper-to-Fiber Media Converters

Copper-to-fiber converters provide a connection of copper-based ethernet equipment with optical fiber links. This provides connectivity over a larger distance through fiber optic cable, protecting the data from interference and noise and provides additional bandwidth capacity to the network.




PoE Media Converters

Power over Ethernet (POE) converters offer a cost-effective and reliable extension to PoE-powered devices. PoE media converters can be used in devices like videoconferencing devices, IP phones and cameras, and Wi-Fi devices over UTP copper cables.


Standalone and Chassis-based Media converters

Standalone converters can be powered by AC or DC and are commonly used for converting copper links to fiber in point-to-point installs. These types of media converters are easy to install and provide a variety of functionalities to your network, such as link fault pass through, auto-MDI/MDIX, and many more.

Chassis-based media converters are used in locations with a high density, like a data center. These devices mount in racks along with network switches, allowing the conversion of copper ports to fiber on switches.









Managed and Unmanaged Media Converters

Managed media converters provide complete control of bandwidth, traffic, and data to the network administrators. The converters let the administrators manage and troubleshoot the network remotely to maintain optimal reliability and performance. Hence, these converters are suitable for network environments that require the deployment of medium-scale to large-scale media converters.

Unmanaged media converters are easy to install and manage. Unlike managed media converters, unmanaged converters don’t provide full control to the administrators for monitoring, configuration, and troubleshooting.


Commercial and Industrial Media Converters

Commercial media converters are suitable for data centers and office environments where the temperature is controlled. These types of converters provide a cost-effective method to extend the distance of the network and enhance the life of the equipment. These converters are best suited for commercial applications with no extreme environmental issues.

Industrial converters are used to convert data or signals between twisted-pair copper cables and single-mode or multimode fiber cabling, allowing the distance extension of the network. These converters can operate in extreme environmental conditions. They can withstand a temperature of -400Cto 750C. The converters are designed for applications with high vibration and shock, making it suitable for industrial networks. Industrial converters are widely used in oil and gas drilling, mining, and building automation applications.


Ethernet media converter


How to use Media Converter?

Media converters are used widely in several industries to provide a connection between fiber and copper. These industries and sectors include security surveillance, campus LANs, and government defense. The compact size of the device makes it a perfect fit for data centers, desktops, and other installation setups. Here are the two most commonly used cases of how to use media converters:


How to use a Single Media Converter

Using a pair of media converters in a network is common. A single media converter is also used to connect a copper cabling system to an optical fiber device.

To connect the optical fiber device with a copper cable using a media converter, follow the steps below.

  1. Connect the copper cable of the Ethernet switch to the RJ45 port of the media converter using an Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) cable (use Cat6 or above).
  2. Plug the SFP transceiver into the SFP slot of the media converter and plug the second SFP module into the SFP switch.
  3. Insert the fiber patch cable in the SFP transceiver and SFP switch.





How to Use a Pair of Media Converters

One pair of media converters are used to link two copper cabling systems to extend the distance of transmission. In a network, a pair of media converter is a common scenario. Here is how you can use a pair of media converters with various elements like network switches, transceivers, and copper/fiber cables:

  1. Connect the copper port of the Ethernet Switch and RJ45 port of the first media converter using a UTP cable (use Cat5 or above).
  2. Plug an SFP module into the first media converter’s SFP slot and into the second media converter’s SFP slot.
  3. Connect the fiber module of the first media converter with a second media converter using a fiber patch.
  4. Connect the RJ45 port of the second media converter to the SFP switch using a UTP cable.

Optical transceivers are hot-pluggable devices, so when inserting the transceivers into the ports, you don’t need to turn off the media converter. Also, remove the fiber patch cable before you remove the transceiver and install the transceiver on the media converter before you insert the cable into the transceiver port.



SFP 3 Fibre Module - Anderson Corporation



Media converters provide a value-added feature to several network applications. This allows the network administrators to choose the option that best fits their environmental conditions. The connection methods used here are a reference to how to use these converters in a network. Remember, to use the converter effectively, contact us, and ask for support.