Media Converters fill a variety of electronic needs. “Media Converters” is indeed a broad category, and is often mistaken as a one-size-fits-all type of equipment. Often simple in functionality, one cannot be fooled by that principle; in reality, hardware and software dictate how specifically they provide a solution for a particular application.
When it comes to network equipment for LANs and WANs, we inherently mean specific equipment for Ethernet. While other protocols such as ATM support certain types of networks, Ethernet rose to the top as the first choice of protocol due to its flexibility, scalability and of course, its cost-effectivity. IMC Networks designed and supported media converters for Ethernet. As faster speeds were developed, based on 802.3 standards, Ethernet media converters were designed accordingly.
With the introduction of fiber, media converter interfaces moved from copper to copper or BNC, to copper to fiber interfaces; Fiber Media Converters filled the need of the conversion; while some felt those converters would have a short life, the reality of expensive switches to do the work allows media converters a secure place in the network equipment landscape.
However, the standard Ethernet media converter evolved into providing other types of conversions. Mode converters have an advantages for those in a difficult position of having to provide one fiber type of conversion to another (ie, Single Mode to Multi Mode fiber). Not only does a mode converter provide two different fiber interfaces, it can function as protocol-independent. So it is not confined to the Ethernet protocol; it is defined by speed ranges however.
As Ethernet switches continue to provide an array of features and number of ports, the price tag remains significant, and network administrators often don’t need all the features and ports, much less the price tag. To that end, FTTX products have been designed; SNMP manageable, multi-port devices, they offer VLANs, bandwidth scaling, and OAM support. Available in up to four ports, these products are ideal for ISPs and growing networks.
As the requirement for surveillance cameras and other equipment has grown, the challenge is providing a source of power when none is easily reachable. Power Over Ethernet equipment is another outgrowth in the media converter market. Power over Ethernet utilizes a copper RJ-45 port to simultaneously support full rate data-transfer while providing a source of power to a device such as a PTZ camera. The standards for PoE and PoE+ are an integrated into an array of Fast Ethernet and gigabit media converters. Even if the PoE technology is not used, the copper interface can function as a standard interface of connectivity.
While the media converters continue to be designed for different network installations, the flexibility of the devices is offered in different form factors. For larger networks, a modular chassis is the ideal choice; a variety of modules that support Ethernet, TDM and Fiber Mode converters can be installed. Installing a number of modules in a twenty slot chassis at the CO, while connecting the CPE in one slot chassis at the end points, makes the installation efficient and easy to manage. But for smaller networks or limited space, the compact converters are highly useful. These compact converters also may offer extended temperature versions and DC powering options.
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