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Optical Module vs Media Converter

Optical Module vs Media Converter, How To Choose?

Both the optical module and the media converter are devices that achieve the photoelectric conversion function, but the use environment of the two is very different.

Both the optical module and the media converter are devices that achieve the photoelectric conversion function, but the use environment of the two is very different.

With the development of science and technology, the speed of urban informatization is accelerating, and the requirements for communication technology are getting higher and higher. Optical fiber is widely used in various large and small cities with its advantages of fast transmission speed, long distance, safety and stability, anti-interference, and convenient expansion.The long-distance data transmission requirements in the intelligent building network project basically use optical fiber transmission. The link between these requires optical modules and  media converter.

1. Optical module

Optical modules are used for photoelectric signal conversion, and are mainly used for special plug-in interfaces on switches, storage, servers and other devices to interconnect these devices.Optical modules are widely used in various data rooms because they are more efficient than transceivers. Optical modules also have various packages (shapes), including SFP, XFP, CFP, and QSFP.

Working principle of an optical module

2. Media Converter

The media converter is also a device for photoelectric conversion, which is mainly used to connect the remote device with the aggregation device (such as the connection of the camera and the aggregation switch in the video surveillance application).

The media converter provides a compromise solution for users who need to upgrade the transmission medium from copper wire to optical fiber, that is, without upgrading terminal equipment and aggregation equipment, the transmission medium can be upgraded to optical fiber only through the optical fiber transceiver to improve transmission quality and transmission distance.

3.The difference between optical modules and optical transceivers

Power Supply

The optical module is a functional module, which requires the main device to supply power. It can only be used on devices with optical module slots such as switches, routers, boards, etc.; while the media converters are generally equipped with independent sources,just plug in the power supply to be used alone.


There are many speed products to choose from optical modules, with speeds ranging from 100M to 400G, which can carry various high-bandwidth applications.

The media converter is mainly used for the convergence of terminal equipment, and currently only products below 10 Gigabit are available.


Optical modules are mainly used in various data processing equipment, such as optical interfaces of switches, core routers, storage, and other equipment;

The media converter is used in scenarios where optical fiber is required to connect to remote devices and the bandwidth is not high.


The optical module supports hot swapping, the configuration is relatively flexible, but the temperature will be high; the media converter is relatively fixed, and  relatively simple to replace and upgrade, flexible;


Optical modules are more expensive than media converters, but they are relatively stable and not easy to damage; media converters are cost efficient, but factors such as site environment and fiber status must be considered;

4. Connection of optical module and media converter

Optical modules and optical transceivers can be used together. Because of the small size of optical modules, some switches can provide 48 optical module slots with only 1U of space.

The same number of fiber optic transceivers will occupy more than half of the cabinet. Therefore, in order to save cabinet space, fiber optic transceivers are used at the far end to connect with the optical module installed in the switch at the near end.

When using optical modules and media converter, please note the following:

  • The rate must be the same. A 100M transceiver cannot link with an optical module that only supports gigabit rate.
  • The wavelength and transmission distance must be consistent, and the wavelengths need to be paired. For example, the transceiver wavelength is Tx1310/Rx1550, the optical module wavelength should be Tx1550/Rx1310, and the nominal transmission distance of the two should be the same.
  • The fiber types must be the same, single fiber to single fiber, dual fiber to dual fiber.
  • The interface of optical fiber patch cord should be paid attention to whether it is LC or SC, so as not to fail to connect.

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