Fluke Networks - Super-size your LAN with fiber

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Fiber optic technology frees the Local Area Network (LAN) from the confines of a single building, allowing a LAN to extend across a campus or a metropolitan area. Read how the selection of fiber optic components affects repeaterless transmission distance and how one school district used fiber to build a more reliable and more cost effective high-speed, district-wide network. Also, read how Metropolitan Area Network (MAN) ownership may require self-assessment of network performance.


Introduction

In the early days of enterprise networking, pre-1980 for argument's sake, the boundaries around the local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) were clear. The LAN was a private, enterprise network geographically constrained by the walls of a single building. If you wanted to interconnect multiple LANs in buildings separated by hundreds of meters or across the country, you employed a service provider, or carrier, to interconnect your LANs. You paid the service provider to ferry your local LAN traffic across the public WAN to your distant LAN. The widespread deployment of fiber optic cabling has changed this picture. No longer confined by twisted pair cabling limitations, the LAN is free to extend across campuses and metropolitan areas.


A small local area network consists primarily of twisted pair cabling, jacks, patch panel, hubs, switches and servers (see figure 1). The transmission characteristics of UTP twisted pair cable limit its effective distance to 100 meters. This is usually not a problem in horizontal applications, where all network devices reside on the same floor of a building, since the distance from the work area outlet to the nearest switch is typically less than 100 meters. This can be problematic in large buildings like factories, warehouses, retail stores and multi-floor office towers. And it is certainly a problem when we want to connect LANs in multiple buildings located across a campus or across town. We commonly use fiber optic cabling to overcome the unshielded twisted pair (UTP) distance limitation in these applications...


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