Having trouble deciding on which fiber optic media converters to buy? Our goal is to help you understand the basics and give you an idea of where to begin.

This article will go over:

  • Introduction to the Fiber Optical Media Converter
  • Managed and Unmanaged
  • Single-mode vs Multi-mode
  • Power Source
  • Fiber Optics vs Copper
  • Full Duplex and Half Duplex
  • About gaotek.com
  • Temperature

What is a Fiber Optic Media Converter?

A fiber optic media converter is a networking device that transfers and translates signals between two distinct media types. It is generally used to extend the network connection much further. A typical media converter has two transceivers that have the capability to transmit and receive data to one another. Each transceiver was built for a different type of media. When the data is received by the second transceiver it is then translated into a compatible type depending on the media required. There is a wide range of applications that you can use a fiber optic media converter for. It is especially good for upgrading to more powerful and modern technology without needing to add components that the device wasn’t already manufactured with. Fiber optic media converters often support a larger cable than that of twisted copper cables. Fiber optic cables have a limit of 2000 meters in comparison to the 90 meters of length by copper cables. The most common use of media converters is when it is being transferred from copper cables to fiber optic cables. Fiber optic media converters also make sure that the data being transferred is invisible to all other devices ensuring its integrity.

Managed and Unmanaged

An unmanaged converter is simple communication between each other without the monitoring. In fact, it also doesn’t include fault detection and any network setup configuration. If you were to connect devices to an unmanaged media converter then it should automatically communicate with one another due to the lack of formal “handshaking”. Unmanaged media converters are simple to use and install so it is recommended for those who would want to integrate fiber network cable installation for immediate use.

Managed fiber optic media converters offer many more functionalities in comparison to unmanaged converters. Some of those functionalities include network monitoring, fault detection and remote configuration. Unfortunately, it is far more advanced to use and it has a greater cost. Most managed media converters support authentication, authorization and accounting security services (AAA) as a priority.

Single-Mode vs Multi-Mode

Deciding between the two is normally based on the distance the data will probably need to travel. Legacy networking typically uses multimode as a requirement rather than a single mode. If you are trying to create a connection between two service providers, it is recommended to use single-mode for its distance and durability. Multimode is only recommended if you plan to create a connection within one building. Multimode fiber can only allow data to travel a short distance but if you do not need the extra distance then multimode should be your primary choice in fiber since it can send signals more than one way and more than once. Multimode also has the advantage of being a lot cheaper than single-mode. Multimode fiber is typically used for tasks like video surveillance and LAN systems; things that do not require data to travel far but it travels very often. Single-mode can only send data one way but with the benefit of the further possible range and it is typically faster than multimode. Unlike the fiber optic transceiver, there are a good amount of converters that work with both cable types.

Power Source

Another factor that affects selection is where the converter gets its power source. There are converters that can get their power from a simple wall outlet. It is typically used with multimode fiber type since that type is made for a network within a single building or campus. You can also use a converter that gets its power from other devices increasing the potential reach of the network. A converter can receive power via the USB (universal serial bus) port. How you choose the power supply option can be important if power outlets are in short supply.


Why Choose Fiber Optics over Copper

You would want to convert communication to using fiber optics if distance is a concern. When using copper, there is a significant limitation on distance whether you use serial or ethernet. Ethernet, on average, can move data with a distance of nearly 100 meters (330 feet) while fiber optics, whether multimode or single-mode, can travel a lot further. Unlike copper, fiber optic is immune to electrical noises so it is a good option if you are in a highly electrical environment. Fiber optic cables can also transfer far more information at a time than any copper cables.


Full Duplex and Half Duplex

Generally they use the same principles as fiber optical transceivers but for most cases, you would want a converter that supports both. Some HUBs exclusively use half-duplex and are not be available for converters that only support full-duplex and vice versa. Also, corruption and packet loss are more likely for converters that only support full-duplex or converters that only support half-duplex. It is recommended to do some test connections between converters and different fiber optical devices to check for compatibility. Some fiber optic media converters come with safety guards to prevent data loss.



The temperature for the planned placement of the converter is important since it may cause the converter to malfunction if it is too low and it may cause complete failure if too high. The typical industrial media converter should be kept between -49 to 167°F (-45 to 75°C).


Fiber Media Converters have a copious amount of factors to consider which must be carefully analyzed before making your choice. If you have any questions that were not answered by this article, it is strongly advised that you contact a leading vendor of media converters such as GAOTek. If you would like to learn more about fiber optics, take a look at the article “Selecting Fiber Optic Transceivers” also by GAOTek.


At gaotek.com, the media converters sold are mostly ethernet to fiber conversions since that is the most common use for a media converter. The category for ethernet to fiber conversion can be found here along with a diagram explaining how they work.

GAOTek also offers custom-built fiber media converters with any specification you want. We also provide assistance in customizing media converters if you are unsure about anything in specific. Feel free to contact GAOTek if you are looking to purchase anything that doesn’t appear for sale. If there is a device you like but it is missing a certain detail, we can also help fix it to suit your needs.