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Fiber Ethernet - What you need to know

When it comes to connecting computer systems in a local area network, one of the standards that has come into play is Ethernet. Since its deployment in the 1980s, Ethernet has evolved in many ways including:

  • Support for data rate
  • performance standards
  • ability to support higher-level network protocols and even
  • the mode of delivery so to speak.

When one talks about fiber Ethernet, here are a few things to keep in mind.

It is a technology

Fiber Ethernet is a computer network technology that allows fiber channels to enjoy higher speeds. It allows for the transmission of fiber Channel traffic over high-speed Ethernet infrastructure. It is also capable of bringing together storage protocols and IP protocols. A gigabit Ethernet allows for transmission of Ethernet frames at a rate of 1Gbps or 1,000,000,000 bits per second. With fiber Channel over Ethernet, data can be transmitted via 10 Gb Ethernet networks.


When you are talking about a fiber Ethernet infrastructure, it runs primarily on fiber optic cables. The length of this cable will depend on the strength of the signal that is received by the gigabit transceiver. Aspects such as the characteristics of the laser transmitter and receiver will determine other technical considerations when it comes to cables. The fiber backbone in such an ecosystem may also have a number of splices and with each splice there may be a certain loss of interface. However, in the larger picture, it may not amount to much and may not affect the quality of your connection.


It would be useful to test the quality of a fiber Ethernet ecosystem with a fiber optic cabling test that will allow you to analyze the losses from beginning to end. Quite a few service providers have started using fusion spliced backbone cabling which promises a negligible loss per connection. Conventionally, mechanical splicing has been used for fiber cables.

Ethernet standards

The IEEE standard 802.3 looks after Ethernet standards. Fiber Ethernet will be governed by specifications and standards such as:

  • 10BASE-FL which deals with fiber optic specification and is mostly used with 10 megabits per second fiber implementations
  • 10BASE-F has 3 separate standards under its umbrella and they are 10BASE-FL,10BASE-FB and 10BASE-FP. All of them deal with fiber optic standards.

Normal Ethernet versus fiber optic

Normally, fiber Ethernet systems comprise of fiber optic cables which can be made either of glass or plastic. Sometimes, several such cables can be bundled together. While these cables are extremely light, the conventional Ethernet cable consists of copper wires. There is also a difference between what these wires and cables conduct. Conventional Ethernet cables conduct electrical signals whereas fiber optic cables conduct light. Thus, when one talks about fiber Channel over Ethernet aspects such as speed, connectivity, costs, reliability and even range will come into play. Fiber cables can indeed be laid across long distances and transmit data with extremely negligible loss. Ironically, the longer distance equates to a lower cost, when it comes to fiber optic cables.


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