Role of Media Converters on the Road from LAN to MAN
Nowadays, many organizations are extending their Local Area Networks (LANs) to Metropolitan Area Network (MANs) to get uninterrupted, private access and control of their networks on several remote sites across the city from a central location. Thus becoming independent of any intermediary services to monitor and manage the connecting network. With this transition from LANs to MANs, physical layer networks are getting more complex and demanding, while network administrators are concerned about their budget because of having to invest a huge sum in legacy switches and routers. Network speeds and bandwidth requirements are also getting higher with the increased number of attached devices on the network. Fortunately, much of the problems related to data rates and media types for such a transition can be resolved by integrating fibre optic cabling and active copper-based structured cabling systems via devices called media converters. In today’s multi-protocol, mixed media networks, the use of media converters have benefited many service providers in two ways: firstly by preserving their investment costs in the existing equipment, and secondly by speeding up the deployment.
Media converters turn out to be the “Swiss Army Knife” for the hardware side of networking. It is a multi-function device that works as a transceiver, converting electrical signals in copper Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP) network cables, into light waves to be used by fibre optic cables. This conversion enables two network devices with copper ports to get connected via fibre optic cabling over extended distances. Media converters not only entertain copper-to-fibre conversion, but also fibre-to-fibre conversion from multi-mode to single-mode fibre, and also converts dual fibre link to single fibre with the use of Bi-Directional (BIDI) data flow. They have also been deployed in Wavelength Division Multiplexing (WDM) applications to convert between wavelengths.
In general, media converters have optimized the fibre links in all types of networks. Being a flexible device, it supports integrated switch technology for Ethernet networks, providing the ability to perform 10/100 and 10/100/1000 rate switching. It has also eased the way for the deployment of new data, voice and video to end users by supporting advanced bridge features such as Quality of Service (QoS) prioritization, VLAN, bandwidth control and port access control.
So what the organizations do is that they lease dark fibre from service providers such as Apollo Technology, to unleash the maximum network potential of their LANs, extending it up to 160 km into a MAN. The protocols and applications needed in today’s LANs are quite different and incompatible with MANs, and putting in effort and resources to make them compatible is quite expensive and time-consuming for both the service provider and the customer. To avoid this, they employ media converters to ensure a smooth transition between the local Ethernet setup and the dark fibre, allowing the network to use the same protocol throughout the data transmission making the system cost-effective and efficient.
Even more so, media converters enable interconnection between existing servers, switches, hubs and routers, which preserves the investment in legacy equipment. They also enable WDM technology through wavelength conversion which eliminates the need to install new fibre links. All this results in saving Capital Equipment Expenditures (CAPEX). In addition to that, network operating costs (OPEX) have also been significantly reduced by media converters that allow for configuration and troubleshooting network equipment/systems from remote locations, avoiding the need of a 24 by 7 network administrator on site.
In a nut shell, media converters are the best possible choice of many fibre optic network operators to extend their LAN eventually into MAN. These devices are bridging the bandwidth gap between LANs and service providers’ fibre optic backbone. Apollo Technology service provider offers their advanced media converters compatible with new evolving standards to help Ethernet become the dominant protocol outside the LAN in the MAN access and long-haul WAN market spaces.