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Reasons to Use Fiber Optic Cable to Install Wireless Access Points

WiFi network has shown dramatic significance refer to modern society primarily because wireless-based smart network devices like smartphones, tablets, and PC seem to be necessities in our daily life and work. To serve strong and safe WiFi network for applications with large areas, especially for business uses, wireless access points are employed universally. In practice, it is unavoidable to encounter dilemmas in achieving an effective installation. In this post, we are going to tell installers or users the reasons why use fiber optic connection and how to get the job accomplished properly.

Advantages of Wireless Access Point for Business WiFi Coverage

Similarly as how routers to be connected, wireless access points make use of LAN connection to enhance performance of WiFi network as wired connectivity always to be more reliable than wireless transmission. In other words, using wired transmission between main router and access points can maintain the optimal stability for WiFi access. Certainly, what illustrated is based on wired cabling is not a big problem to overcome under practical scenarios.

Additionally, access points offer greater range compare to other WiFi extension solutions, such as WiFi range extenders or PLC adapters, which are preferred to be used for extending WiFi range to home uses with limited range. More importantly, wireless access point comes with feature to accommodate much more devices or clients, along with fast internet speed. Adopting this way, allow users to gain a seamless roaming in offices or other large areas using multiple access point.

Brief Installation Guideline for Setting up Wireless Access Points

  • Wireless access points require wired connection to achieve more reliable signal for wireless Internet access. Generally, WAPs are connected to the LAN port of a router or network switch via copper Ethernet cable.
  • Access points can reply on Ethernet cable to carry power actually. It is known that WAPs, as a kind of electronics, need to get power to start working. Traditionally, plug the matched adapter into an power outlet. While there are advanced models, PoE wireless access points, being introduced and applied to offer easier and flexible installation. Using PoE connection, access points get power and data simultaneously thru single twisted Ethernet cable, such as Cat5e or Cat6. If budget allows, we highly endorse to utilize PoE.
  • Find access points a proper placement, precisely if possible. A consideration on the placement is key to get better signal and coverage. Moreover, try to keep away from locations nearby obstruction or physical interference to maintain the optimal performance. And provided that multiple access points are used to cover applications with greater area, keep mind to avoid coverage overlap, which may occur coverage intersects.

Things to Consider Before Taking Action

Be Aware of the Limitations of Copper UTP Cabling

As illustrated earlier, WAPs use Ethernet cabling, and in fact, Ethernet cable comes with its inherent limitation of only reaching a maximum of 100 meters(328ft.) transmission due to power drop and data loss. Beyond this range, generally, the connected WAPs can’t work normally or remain a good performance. This limitation is largely determined by the material of Ethernet cable. Power will be partially converted to heat and lost in line.

Make Clear Bandwidth Requirement

It is important to know actual bandwidth requirement for each access point. In other words, you should count connected devices and figure out how much bandwidth is sufficient to ensure a smooth or fast internet surfing, basically to those common-used devices. Too much devices or users connect to one access point, and you will feel the pain when poor bandwidth can be provided. This mainly depends on the level of wireless access points, and the main network of the system.

Understand the Importance of Security

Security of WiFi access or WiFi coverage matter a lot. More and more users care about security of the WiFi network ready to join, specifically, questions like whether the WiFi will do harm to crucial info pertaining to my privacy or property or not, have more tendency to float in their brain. As a result, installers or managers is supposed to know the importance of building a secure WiFi network.

Alternative Cabling Option to Install WAPs

If you haven’t reach a final decision to start building WiFi coverage with access points, here we introduce another alternative on the cabling for WAPs. Expect for Ethernet cabling, fiber optic connectivity is an option too. It makes use of fiber optic cable to deliver data, and a few of reasons make it superior to Ethernet cabling to some circumstances. We will get closer look at these reasons in the following.

Fiber Optic Connectivity is Superior for Business Use

Optimize WiFi Network Speed

The ability to build network with fast network speed is the leading advantage of fiber optic connectivity. There are several factors indicating business uses might demand high bandwidth or fast speed.

First and foremost, as we know, within a large area, more devices are planned to get connected, including devices for work or from consumers.

Next, taking account of work efficiency, it is irrational to experience a slow or drop WiFi network, especially for those work on PC or smartphones, in this case, fiber optic connectivity serving faster network speed provides a better option.

Furthermore, fast network speed is of significance when think out of the effect on business benefit, as a well-experienced smooth WiFi can attract more customers to some extent for businesses like malls, catering service areas.

Compare to copper Ethernet cabling, which is accomplished transmission over electronic signal at up to 40Gbps currently, fiber connection is transmitted over optical signals, making use of the pulses of light as transmission medium, and it can carry data on the verge of the speed of light, offer significantly higher throughput. And apparently why fiber helps optimize network speed has already known, it is unnecessary to mention how fast the speed of light is. By the way, using bandwidth to measure data transmission rate is a standard way, that being said, faster network speed means a higher bandwidth.

Greater Transmission Distance

From what mentioned previously, you learned that copper Ethernet cabling generally can only reach 100 meters around distance due to sign loss, a more official term called signal attenuation. Although fiber optic connection suffer from attenuation either similarly, it is effective to transmit data to much longer distance. The maximum distance depends on the installation environment and mainly the types of fiber optic cables. Typically, it can easily achieve data transmission to miles or kilometers away. It is perfect for deployments requiring long range data transmission covering greater distance.

As a matter of fact, copper Ethernet cabling still have chance to reach longer distance with the assistance of some Ethernet extension or PoE extension devices, such as PoE extenders. To some degree, fiber optic connectivity is one of the way of extensions, but in this way, only long fiber optic cable lay in the large length run.

Desire for more information about how to extend the range of PoE WAPs, you can refer to How to Extend WiFi Range Further with Cable.

Immunity to EMI

Fiber optic network transmits data employing fiber optic cables, which are made from glasses or plastic material, namely, fiber optic cables are non-metallic. This feature makes fiber optic connectivity comes with capability of immunity to EMI(Electromagnetic Interference). Generally speaking, EMI exists where electrical current is generated along magnetic fields. Fiber optic cables make use of light but current, thus, so to speak, it is out of concern from EMI, offering potential for installation under places where EMI may interfere signal transmission.

In addition, fiber optic cables don’t contain metals as no wires included in cables, and that means, fiber optic cable only do the business of data transmission. It opens a safer way on connection, as you know, the copper-based cables deal with power are at higher risk of electric shock hazards. Conversely, fiber optic connections eliminate the occurs of even a smallest spark entirely.

Great Security on Data

From the aspect of security, fiber optic connections is perfect choice to get rid of any potential security vulnerability. Data security is key to qualified WiFi network. fiber optic connections can do well in protecting data from tapping by external accesses. The reason is that the electromagnetic field of optical fibers is contained within the fiber optic cable, that said, data cannot be read unless getting the fiber to be cut. This enables an effective way to transfer sensitive data with enhanced protection, along with great resistance to malicious data leaks or hacks.

Easier Cable Management

Comparatively speaking, fiber optic connections can simplify installation with easier cable management. Fiber optic cables is designed with a thinner size and a lighter weight. Literally, the majority of common optical fiber strand is the same diameter as a human hair. As fiber is smaller,  therefore, less space is required for installation, and in a more flexible way. Moreover, it can fit in ventilation ducts deployment, and ventilation ducts are widely built in buildings. Additionally, due to their lightweight design, it is easy to pull or lift the cable realizing a portable installation.

Future-proof Solution

Using fiber optic connections can adapt to future applications as the truth is that a bigger amount of data we will consume with the development of wireless-based devices, so as the requirement for higher bandwidth, which copper cabling cannot afford hardly. Put an eye toward future growth, adopt fiber optic connections, it does save the hassle and cost for replacing old copper-based cabling or infrastructure. Besides, fiber tends to serve a longer lifespan due to its nature of glasses or plastic material with a better resistance to corrosion or other physical damages. Undoubtedly, fiber optic cable are more affordable as the constant development and practice.

All in all, fiber optic connectivity shows its unique benefits on building a high speed, low latency data transmission with superior reliability and security covering a much larger distance in an easy and flexible way.

Essential Things Should Know When Installing WAPs with Fiber

To employ optic fiber for installing access points is not that complicated as you though, but it is better to keep the following two essential things in mind and take a complete consideration before a realistic implement.

Think About Required Components from Actual Needs

For the starter, it is necessary to make clear what equipment and tools are required, otherwise, I guess nobody would like to experience dilemmas like that it is asked for a haul to the setup and a longer deployment period just because the lack of some missing components that matter.

The fiber optic connection mainly involves networking, signal conversion and cabling. We will elaborate the components required in a brief.

1.Build Networking with Network Electronics

We need WiFi over LAN, and here the LAN network suppose transmit through fiber optic connections. Thus having a working LAN network is the fundamental. Simply way is to connect WAPs to WiFi router directly with Ethernet cable, while for business, generally make use of Ethernet switches or PoE switches as the main network, and it is definitely workable to connect WAPs to the LAN ports of network switches for LAN work instead. If you already have a networking infrastructure installed, there are no need to do works on it, and just skip this part and go to the next signal conversion part unless the original network no longer meets the growing requirements on network speed, number of ports or others.

2.Accomplish Signal Conversion with Media Conversion Units

Having an Ethernet or PoE networking infrastructure is the fist step, and here the issue is that we need to get fiber optic connection integrated into the link. Basically, we learned that optical fibers transfer data over optical signal, while the LAN network relies on copper cabling over electronic signal, these two kinds of media cannot communicate with each other unless a signal conversion occurs. In other words, it is a necessity to add devices or gadgets that are specially designed to do the signal conversion work.

Fiber media converters and SFP transceivers( aka SFP modules) are the units needed to do the signal conversion job. These two gadgets have to work together to finish the signal conversion job. You may ask why this job is separated instead of combining these two gadgets, this mostly due to the varied requirements for network speeds and transmission distances for different applications, and some of SFP modules only work with specific brands due to different protocols being used.

In most cases, they are both used in a pair. Some network switches are equipped with built-in media converter, generally you’ll find SFP slots attached on the switches, media converters can be saved consequently if employing the fiber network switches as networking infrastructure.

There are two types of fiber media converters available in the market, one is the Ethernet type and the PoE-enabled type. The PoE-enabled fiber media converters offer greater installation flexibility for the edge IP devices because power is transmitted simultaneously over a single Ethernet cable, like Cat5e, Cat6, eliminating extra AC outlets around the edge devices.

SFP transceivers stand for small form-factor pluggable transceivers, which are compact, hot-pluggable signal conversion tools making instant fiber connectivity with plug-and-play installment. According to practical needs, SFP modules are designed to work for singlemode or multimode fiber optic cables. Moreover, they also vary from connectors types, simplex or duplex. Or you can use the advanced type called BiDi SFP modules, which only use single port for transmitting and receiving with different wavelengths, providing an easier connection. SFP modules commonly support 1G or 2.5G network speed, and if calling for a 10G network, the SFP+ modules can easily meet your need.

3.Make Connection with Proper Cable

From above we know that fiber optic connections use fiber optic cables as cabling medium. There are two major types, namely, singlemode and multi-mode fiber optic cables. Singlemode serves a long distance transmission with higher bandwidth due to its cable structure, a cleaner channel is used to transmit signal with less attenuation. Multi-mode fiber cables are more widely for applications with a shorter transmission distance(within 300-400 meters), such as backbone network. What’s more, deployment environment dramatically affect the purchase on indoor or indoor/outdoor types, certainly, the outdoor type performs more stably under harsh conditions. Generally, fiber cabling is protected by waterproof wipes or enclosures so as to realize outdoor harsh deployment or direct-buried beneath the ground.

Unlike copper wire, which usually has a connector installed, fiber optic cable is a sensitive item that requires high precision as signal loss easy to happen. This is why fiber optic cables are not always pre-assembled. For applications that require ultra-precise cable termination, they probably choose fusion splicing or hand polishing, which means a higher investment in connection tools and installation time. Whereas for home use or regular business use only, a pre-terminated fiber optic cable is a reasonable option. The connectors are pre-terminated from the factory and 100% tested to ensure the performance effect, and it has plug and play to make the connector easier and faster.

Tackle Power Issue with Extra Considerations

One thing to confirm is that fiber optic cables only do the job for data transmission, that being said, power supply issue requires an extra consideration and separate treatment. Fiber don’t contain wires, naturally, don’t carry power. If fact, the way delivering power to the edge network devices still comes with different choices.

-Simply Use Local AC Power Outlets

If a local power source is available, the setup is easier, only to make devices linked correctly and use the enclosed or suitable power adapter(for device with build-in power supply) or plus the compatible external power supply( for devices without a built-in power supply). Local power source means you can easily find and access AC power outlets for adapters to be plugged into them to power the edge devices. In this situation, applying fiber optic for an extended WiFi system setup is not a hard job.

-Flexibly Get from Remote End

Provided that AC power outlets or AC power source is difficult to be found at the site, you should find a way to solve power issues separately. Lacking local power, then the idea sending power from the remote end (main control room) seems like the only feasible method in long distance deployment not to mention the solar power solution.

Let’s take a step back for a while. Be aware that signal conversion units, the majority of these devices, are not expected to equip with a built-in power supply, especially for those outdoor used type to reduce heat damage. So an external AC-DC power supply is often stayed by side. And getting power from remote end means a larger length power cable needed, and a server power degradation.

So transmission distance is the problem waiting to be solved. Actually, the core is to overcome severe voltage drop and power loss occurs as an increased distance. Fortunately, this problem can be solved by using a fiber media converter with a wide input voltage range. Sometimes people also choose fiber network switch with a wide input voltage range instead. They allows installers to choose the proper power supply accordingly to meet different demands on deployment distance and fit specific powered devices vary from power consumption.

FASTCABLING 5844-46 Waterproof PoE Media Converter is the optimal choice for realizing external power supply and providing PoE capabilities. 5844-46 has a wide voltage range of DC 24V-56V, so installers can place the power supply in a remote place, away from the converter itself, send long power together with the fiber optic cable, enough power and fast network from external back end. Equipped with a 10/100/1000Mbps PoE port and an SFP slot, it can achieve high speeds in a gigabit network that is more than 1 kilometer away from the main network. Furthermore, the 5844-46 is housed in an IP68 waterproof and dust-proof rugged metal case with great resistance to water, dust or other elements.

PoE over fiber with DC power system is brand new concept, you can find more details in here.

Bonus: How to Set up a 2.5/10G Wi-Fi Network with Fiber?

2.5G/10G WiFi network can achieve by using fiber optic connections, some businesses might have a plan to upgrade or design to get improved performance. The setup is mostly the same as common case that we discussed above. However, only some keys points are worth noting.

Relative article: Extend WiFi with WiFi 6 Access Point Using Fiber Optic Cable

-New Model WiFi 6 Wireless Access Point is the Basic

Most of access points cab only support 1G max. backbone network speed. Advanced models use WiFi 6. Unlike previous standards, such as the commonly used WiFi 5, WiFi 6 supports a faster backbone network speed at 2.5G. The WiFi 6 access point offers 70% faster speeds with improved coverage around blind spots and allows more devices and more users to be connected online at the same time. In addition to performance, WiFi 6 offers higher network security and low power consumption for energy saving.

-Never Skip Confirmations on the Power Consumption of PoE WAPs

Want to use PoE WAPs, and it is important to check and confirm how much power is needed for PoE WAPs as they might comply with different PoE standards in line with capacity. PoE standards determine how much power is output. There are three PoE standards, including IEEE802.3af, IEEE802.3at and IEEE802.3bt. Some WiFi 6 access point demands high power to operate, to meet such applications, high power PoE+ or PoE++ might be the answers.

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