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A fiber media converter is a networking device that allows connecting two different media types, such as a twisted pair or coaxial cable to a fiber-optic cable. This type of device is very important as it allows interconnecting fiber-optic networks and cable systems with pre-existing copper-based cabling systems. This allows for partial upgrades of network infrastructure into fiber-optic technology and for interconnection with other types of communication networks.
Fiber media converters are designed to support most data communication protocols such as Ethernet and Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, E3/DS3 and T1/J1/E1. To support a wide variety of communication protocols, they must also support the cable types supported by those protocols such as coaxial and twisted pair to be connected to single- or multi-mode fiber-optic cables.
There are many types of fiber media converters, ranging from small standalone devices, PC card converters to enterprise-grade high-port-density chassis systems meant for data center environments that offer advanced networking management features.
Fiber media converters are useful in extending and interconnecting local area networks into a larger campus network. This is because traditional copper cables incur significant losses over extended lengths, so they need expensive repeaters to boost the signal. This can be prevented if the copper cables are connected to a fiber-optic cable using a fiber media converter because fiber-optic cables incur very little loss over long distances.