A Guide to Ethernet Extenders
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Frequently Asked Questions about Ethernet Extenders
1. Are Ethernet extenders effective?
Ethernet extenders efficiently expand an Ethernet network. They are cost-effective, simple to install, and will work with existing copper wiring.
2. How far can you extend an Ethernet cable?
Ethernet extenders can provide data up to 20 kilometers (12 miles).
3. Do Ethernet extenders slow down speed?
Ethernet extenders maintain a strong internet connection that does not slow down the internet speed.
4. How far can I run Ethernet over CAT5e cable?
The maximum distance for CAT53 cable (or higher) is 100 meters (328 feet). CAT53 cable supports up to 1000 Mbps (1 Gbps).
5. Are Ethernet extenders industrially hardened?
Some are. Many Ethernet extenders on the market come in a hardened chassis. And many claim to operate at temperatures of -40°F to 167°F (-40°C to 75°C). However, some companies sell “commercial-grade” components that simply can not meet this claim; therefore, product failure is inevitable. If you have rugged environment issues, be sure to purchase an industrial-grade Ethernet extender.
6. Is Ethernet faster than WiFi?
Ethernet transmits data over cable, while WiFi transmits data via wireless signals. In general, an Ethernet connection is faster than WiFi—and, in addition, Ethernet is more secure and reliable.
7. What is the difference between Fast Ethernet and Gigabit Ethernet?
The biggest difference is speed: Fast Ethernet reaches up to 100Mbps, while Gigabit Ethernet offers up to 1Gbps (1000Mbps), ten times faster.
What is the Ethernet?
The Ethernet was created in 1973 by a team at Xerox Corporation’s Palo Alto Research Center (known as Xerox PARC) that included Robert Metcalfe, David Boggs, Chuck Thacker, and Butler Lampson. In 1979, Xerox, Digital Equipment Corporation, and Intel Corporation co-created the 10-megabit-per-second (10Mbps) standard that was ratified by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 1980.
The Ethernet is a technology that connects devices in a wired local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN). The IEEE has defined the Ethernet under 802.3, a group of standard specifications. 802.3 “defines a physical layer and a data link layer for media access control, or MAC address, for a wired, fast Ethernet network connection. These physical connections are made between nodes or devices such as routers, switches, and hubs via copper or fiber cables. In general, IEEE 802.3 standards specify the physical media and the operational characteristics of Ethernet.” (1)
The term “Ethernet” encapsulates how network devices communicate with each other (e.g., recognize, receive, and process data). The Ethernet cable is the physical, sheathed wiring over which the communication travels. Ethernet technology is used because it is high-speed, secure, and reliable and is used in homes and businesses of all sizes.
However, in “non-techie” terms, the Ethernet is the provider of the internet. And since its inception, Ethernet networks have grown bigger, faster, and more diverse.
IEEE 802.3 standards have a cable distance limitation of 100 meters (328 feet). However, many businesses and organizations require distances that far exceed this standard. This article discusses what an Ethernet extender is, how it works, its benefits, and its limitations.
What is an Ethernet extender?
In the late 1980s, twisted-pair wiring became the cable standard, and manufacturers and users became aware that wiring beyond 100 meters resulted in data loss. A solution to this problem resulted in the Ethernet extender.
Ethernet extenders—also called “network extenders,” “LAN extenders,” or “Ethernet repeaters”—are devices that use electrical means to increase the distance range of an Ethernet line. They are a low-cost and reliable solution for organizations that span great distances—academic campuses, hotels, shopping malls, sports arenas, etc.
Ethernet extenders use an array of transmission technologies and physical media like copper wire, fiber-optic cable, coaxial cable, and wireless. Typical applications of Ethernet extenders include:
- CCTV cameras
- Wireless access points (WAPs)
- Display screens
- Point-of-sales kiosks
- Security access devices like retinal scanners or badge readers
How does an Ethernet extender work?
Although there are undoubtedly compelling advantages of fiber-optic cabling—such as a speed of 1Gbps and a distance limit of about 305 meters (1,000 feet), copper twisted-pair Ethernet cables are the most common wiring used by Ethernet extenders. The extenders use copper wiring with two, four, and eight-wire versions to expand a LAN distance. While copper cabling is not as fast as fiber-optic cabling, there are a few practical reasons why copper use is so widespread. First, there is a large amount of existing copper wiring in most of today’s networks. Second, fiber-optic cabling is quite expensive. On the other hand, ethernet extenders are inexpensive, easy to install and have very low maintenance requirements. So, the ability to use existing network-grade copper cables in conjunction with a reasonably priced Ethernet extender makes it an acceptable alternative to the expensive option of fiber-optic cable.
Ethernet Extender vs. Media Converter
People often get confused when distinguishing between Ethernet extenders and media converters. Both of these devices help to geographically expand a LAN; however, they accomplish this in different ways. Therefore, choosing which device to use depends on the network’s application needs.
An Ethernet extender functions as an interface that reads signals and transforms them from Ethernet to digital simulation language and vice versa. It uses existing copper wiring to extend the scope of a LAN to distances of up to 20 kilometers (approximately 12 miles), depending on the type of modem.
In contrast, a media converter extends an existing network that runs over copper cables by connecting them to fiber-optic cables. As a result, they provide high-speed connectivity over much larger distances—up to 100 kilometers (approximately 62 miles).
Media converters are used in venues like manufacturing, rail transportation, road transportation, etc., while Ethernet extenders are more suitable for school and business campuses, shopping malls, and sports arenas.
The Benefits of Using an Ethernet Extender
There are plenty of reasons to consider using an Ethernet extender to expand a network’s range.
- Ethernet extenders can be used over any of the following existing wirings:
- CAT/5/6/7/8 twisted-pair cables
- Any existing copper wiring used in the following applications: alarm circuits, E1T1 circuits, RS-232, RS-422, RS-485, CCTV, and CATV
- Coaxial cable
- Ethernet extenders are cost-effective because they are inherently inexpensive and because existing wiring does not need to be replaced.
- Ethernet extenders are efficient and increase the range of a network up to 20 kilometers (12 miles).
- Ethernet extenders provide speeds up to 300Mbps (190Mbps DS/110Mb ps US).
- There are Ethernet extender options for both managed and unmanaged networks
- Ethernet extenders operations are transparent.
- Ethernet extenders come in versions that have advanced features such as Link Pass-Through, Interlink Fault Feedback, Auto-MDIX, and Loopback.
What to Look For When Choosing an Ethernet Extender
Not all Ethernet extenders are alike. As with most things, higher quality means more efficiency. Here’s a list of some things to consider when shopping for an Ethernet extender:
- Make sure the extender and your connection hub have the same frequencies.
- Choose an extender that has a microcontroller. These chips handle error detection and recovery by constantly monitoring the status of the links.
- Consider the quality of the housing of the unit. What types of environments can its casing withstand? Metal is best. However, if an Ethernet extender with plastic enclosure is your choice, be sure the plastic is high quality.
- Check out the MTBF (mean time between failures) rating. This number is measured in hours, and high ratings mean high quality. If the MTBF is low or not specified, be cautious. Note: A short warranty period is also an indication of poor quality.
- Security is always crucial, so look for an extender with the highest security level possible.
The bottom line is an Ethernet extender is a great solution to increase your network range. However, always choose the highest quality Ethernet extender you can afford to ensure optimum performance.
Versa Technology’s VX-VEB160G4 (V3) Ethernet Extender Kit
Versa Technology’s VX-VEB160G4 (V3) offers fiber-optic-like speeds, making it the fastest copper Ethernet extender on the market. This cost-effective Ethernet extender kit includes two VS-VEB160G4 (V3) units. Each unit contains:
- One RJ11 phone cable
- One RJ45 Ethernet cable
- One 12V IA (output) power supply
- One quick installation guide
The VX-VEB160G4 (V3) has the following specifications:
- Interface: 4 x 10/100/1000Base-T, 1 x VDSL2
- Speed DS / US: Up to 190Mbps / Up to 110Mbps
- Power Supply: 12VDC over 2.1mm DC Jack
- Power Consumption: 4.5 Watts Max.
- Operating Temperature: -20°C to 65°C
- Standard: IEEE 802.3 compliant
- Distance: Up to 4,000 ft.
How To Set Up an Ethernet Extender
Simple “plug-and-play” Ethernet copper extenders are the perfect solution for commercial buildings, hospitality environments, and remote offices; they are the backbone of a corporate LAN. Set up is easy:
First, set up one of your Ethernet extenders to operate as the “source” unit. You do this by following these steps::
- Power up both units by connecting the power adapters to the wal.l
- Next, connect the power to one of the Ethernet extenders.
- Plug the Ethernet cable into any of the ports on the back of the unit.
- Connect the same Ethernet cable to your Ethernet switch.
- To set your device to operate as a “source,” flip the dip switch to office terminal (OT) mode, at which time the RT LED indicator will turn off.
- Connect your telephone cable to the wall.
- Connect the adjacent side of the telephone cable to the VDSL interface located on the front of the unit.
Next, set up the remaining Ethernet extender to operate as the “destination” unit by following these steps:
- Flip the dip switch to Remote Terminal (RT) mode, at which time the LED RT indicator will turn on.
- Plug the Ethernet cable into any of the ports on the back of the unit.
- Plug the adjacent side of the Ethernet cable into the powered device (e.g., wireless access point).
- Connect the telephone cable to the VDSL2 interface located on the front of the unit.
- Connect the adjacent side of the telephone cable to the wall.
- The link light will continuously flash and turn solid when it successfully synchronizes with the source unit.