One Media Converter to Rule Them All?

Media converters are often maligned as one of the necessary evils in data networks. In a perfect world, with judicious equipment selection, everything should plug-and-play together. In the real world, however, there are those occasions when equipment just won’t play nice together. You end up with situations like,

  • a GbE over single mode fiber in one hand, and a switch with only 1000BaseT RJ45 ports available in the other, or
  • a multimode GbE circuit that needs connecting to a single mode GbE span, or
  • an 80km single mode circuit that needs to be extended to 140km, or
  • a 100Mbps Ethernet circuit that must be connected to a GbE SFP port

These are the sort of situations where a media converter is just the thing to bridge the gap.

Typical Ethernet Media Converters

A media converter generally acts as a simple bridge between two different physical layer (PHY) interfaces. Most media converters are fixed configuration devices, most commonly with one 10/100/1000BASE-TX (RJ45) as port 1 and an integrated optical port (LC, SC or ST interface) of the type required for the situation at hand. The optical port may be multimode (short reach 850nm) or may be available in one of several reaches of single mode, typically 10km, 20km, 40km, and 80km. There are even single mode versions with bi-directional (BiDi) optics, allowing full-duplex transmission over a single fiber between a pair of media converters.

Fixed configuration media converters are inexpensive but inflexible. They are typically deployed while needed, then basically discarded (i.e., thrown in one of those closets where all the old junk you think you may use again goes). The next time a situation requiring a media converter arises, the search is on for the specific one with the interfaces required to do the job.

Enter the Universal Ethernet Media Converter

So is that the way it has to be, a new media converter for each special circumstance and gradually a pile of cast off devices? There is a better ‘mousetrap’. A universal Media Converter, pictured below, can support all of the above listed application scenarios, and more. The device is similar in size to a fixed configuration unit but includes two standard open slots into which standard MSA-compliant SFPs may be equipped. Though it appears to be a three port device, it actually supports two active ports. Port 1 (‘P1’) is a dual-personality port…either the RJ45 10/100/1000Mbps copper Ethernet may be used or, if an SFP is equipped in the paired port (also labeled ‘P1’), the optical interface supported on that SFP is the active one. Port 2 (‘P2’) consists of a single SFP slot, which may be equipped with any type of 1Gbps MSA-compliant SFP.

Figure 1.        Universal Media Converter


Finally, a simple and powerful solution to those occasional interconnection ‘snafus’. One device that, equipped with one or two specific SFPs, can solve all of the ‘disconnects’ listed earlier.


Copper Ethernet to Short Reach MMF X None 1000BASE-SX
Copper Ethernet to Long Reach SMF X None 1000BASE-ZX
MMF to SMF ‘Mode Converter’ None 1000BASE-SX 1000BASE-LX
Long haul ‘Link Extender’ None 1000BASE-ZX 1000BASE-ZX
100Mbps Copper Ethernet to GbE Optical ‘Rate and Media Conversion’ X None 1000BASE-SX


The table above shows just a few of the many applications supported by a universal media converter. The really great feature of this solution is, when the universal media converter is no longer needed in a particular application it need not be discarded. It is ready, with the possible equipping of one or two different SFPs, to handle the next networking interconnect trouble spot.


For More Information

For more information about Fluxlight’s Universal Media Converter,

PN: WT-1200, please visit

For information about media converter solutions, optical transceivers, fiber patch cables, or other optical interconnection solutions, please call 888-874-7574 or email: or

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