A media converter converts light waves into electrical waves and vice versa. It is an absolutely essential part of a standard networking toolkit.
There is a different type of media converter for just about every network you can imagine:
- Copper to fiber
- Coax to fiber
- Fiber to fiber
- Single-mode to multi-mode
You name it.
It all makes sense because, practically speaking, there just aren’t that many single-media type enterprises out there. A number of factors contribute to this reality.
Legacy equipment – It’s cheaper and easier to use legacy devices that are still operating than to replace them as newer equipment comes to market and gets added to a network.
Legacy buildings – Structures like office complexes, apartment buildings, and older construction is already wired with copper from the telecoms days. Later, Tier 2 and 3 ISPs added coax into the mix. Office buildings in the 1980s and 1990s also got the lion’s share of Cat5e Ethernet cabling.
A full rewire just isn’t practical.
According to the cabling industry experts, it takes up to 10 years to replace old wiring in a building. Financial priorities are equally important. It’s not feasible to unify networking devices to ALL-FIBER compatibility or ALL-COPPER compatibility over an entire campus or residential complex.
The public tends to be conservative in how they spend their yearly budgets. Cost savings have been driving this whole Ethernet movement for years, including the steady development of media converters.