Discussion on Types of Media Conversion and their Working in the Local Area Network(LAN)

A Local area network (LAN) is a network where several devices are connected in one physical location such as buildings, offices, homes, etc. Although it may sound simple, the LAN may feature a challenging layout with multiple types of cables, switches, routers, access points, and several other components. All these components ensure the connection of the device to web servers, internal servers, and other LANs through wide area networks. Of all these components, the cables are the most important ones, as they ensure connectivity between different devices. There are two types of cables used in any network and they are copper and fiber optic cables. Using these cables directly will not work, as they demand media conversion. This is achieved through special devices known as ethernet media converters. How do these media converters enable media conversion in the local area network? Why they have become an integral part of any LAN? This post discusses the different media types in LAN and the use of conversion devices. 

Discussion on Media Conversion in the Local Area Network

What Types of Cables Used in LAN?

A LAN typically uses the following types of cabling media:
  • Copper Cables: These cables feature copper conductors, which use electrical signals to transmit data between the networks. Copper cables aren’t a new technology and have been used in LANs for several years.
  • Fiber Optic Cables: These cables feature optical fibers, which transmit data through optical pulses. Fiber cables are preferred in long-distance applications that require immunity to EMF and demand high bandwidth and transmission speeds.
The above cables are further distinguished into the following types based on their design:
  • Shielded Twisted Pair (STP): It is a type of copper cable that features twisted pair conductors shielded with a foil wrapping or copper braid jacket. This foil wrapping helps protect twisted cables from crosstalk and electromagnetic interference.
  • Unshielded Twisted Pair (UTP): It is another popular type of copper twisted-pair cabling with no internal shielding. The outer shielding jacket protects the cable from damage or physical stress but does not shield it from any electrical noise. It is the most commonly used type of LAN cable due to its flexibility, performance, and low operational costs.
  • Coaxial Copper Cables: These are the cables comprising an inner conductor enveloped by a conducting shield. The inner conductor and the conducting shield is separated by an insulating material. Coaxial copper cables may also have a protective outer jacket.
  • Single-Mode Fiber (SMF): This is a type of fiber optic cable that has a small core diameter that allows the only single mode of light to propagate, thus, named single-mode fiber. Owing to its single mode of transmission, there is no dispersion involved, which helps minimize attenuation and signal
  • Multi-Mode Fiber (MMF): This type of fiber cable is most preferred for short-distance applications because it enables multiple modes at the same time which increases the chances of reflection, thereby leading to attenuation. The cables are known as multimode cables owing to their multiple transmission modes.
Media converters help synchronize these different media types used in the network. The next section discusses the types of media converters used.

Types of Media Converters in LAN

The following are the two popular types of media converters used in a LAN
  • Copper to Fiber Media Converters: These are the most popular type of Ethernet to Fiber media converters that help transform the electrical signals into optical signals to ensure a smooth and consistent transmission in networks using both copper and fiber optic cables. Copper cables are simple and easy to install, which is why they are commonly found in most LANs. However, these cables have a transmission limitation of 100 meters, which makes them a difficult choice for long-distance transmission. This is why fiber optic cables are being increasingly used. They offer several benefits such as signal clarity, zero attenuation, data safety, and so on. However, replacing the entire network with fiber optic cables may not be a feasible option for businesses that work in constrained budgets. This is where copper to fiber media converters can help. They allow business owners to extend their existing network using fiber optic cables, without making any significant infrastructure changes or huge investments.
  • Fiber to Fiber Media Converters: Fiber-to-fiber media converters are used to connect between the two types of fiber cables – single-mode (SM) and multi-mode (MM) and single fiber and dual fibers. They enable transmission through the easy conversion of different wavelengths. Fiber to fiber media converters are a common choice for TDM and Ethernet applications.
The performance of any network depends on the synchronization of different devices, their quality, and their connecting media. For connecting different media types in LAN or to ensure efficient media conversion in the local area network, you need to purchase these media converters from a reliable manufacturer like VERSITRON. The company has been providing media conversion devices as well as fiber optic devices for several years now.

Rich Tull

R.W. Tull is the President of Versitron Inc. He works closely with clients to review layout diagrams and drawings in order to ensure that the best fiber optic solution is achieved for a particular project.

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