About fibre

Hi All,

We need to replace a comms cabinet that has fibre connected straight into a panel. Ive worked with fibre in a converter unit of some kind but never directly a panel. The fibre runs from one side of the building to the other. I need to be able to replace the comms and I'm not sure what the panel with the fiber patching is called. Can someone help me out?

Also, what does the panel do? Does it just have the fibre running in from outside, terminating to the back of the patch panel and then the fibre connected at the front is run through the building? If so, how does it actually get converted to ethernet to be able to connect to the local network?
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What it is called, depend on your point of reference:  These panels are called "Fibre termination panels" or "Fibre patch panels", or even sometimes "splice trays".  But "Fibre patch panel" is most generic.

The function of the patch panel is purely physical:  It allows a fibre cable (that consists of multiple optic fibre strands) to be secured inside a cabinet, and the individual fibre stands to be spliced to the required fibre coupling standards, and have the fibre connectors mounted for ease of access and protection of the fibre strands.  Usually, the fibre cable (either from another biulding, or even within the same building) terminates on the back (permanently), while fibre tails (sometimes called "pigtails") are connected to the front of the patch panel and the specific network Equipment.

The Ethernet standard (IEEE 802.3) also specifies fibre connectivity: 100BASE-FX, 1000BASE-SX and 1000BASE-LX being very commonly used.  So some hardware can be equipped with fibre ports. There also exist fibre-to-UTP converters, which you can use if your specific hardware does not have a fibre port.

Just note that the equipment at the two ends of the fibre cable must support the same standard. You cannot connect a 1000BASE-SX port to a 1000BASE-LX port.

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When replacing the cabinet you may not have to replace the fiber enclosure if it fits the same 19" rack mount or whatever you are currently using.  The fiber cabinet, tray, patch panel, light interface unit or whatever they want to call it simply provides strain relief for the cable and a means for coupling the individual fibers to the patch cables that connect to the electronics.  In this manner the user only comes in contact with a more durable patch cable and does not risk breaking the fiber at the connector.  The individual fibers are exposed inside this "box" and are fragile.  It is possible to remove the terminated cable from the box and put it in another box if you are going from a wall mount to rack mount solution.  Do not kink or strain the exposed fiber.  Do not allow less than 6" bend radius on any of it.
The electronics are what converts the fiber to Ethernet.  Sometimes called "media converters" they are rated at different speeds and like said above, they do not auto negotiate speed like copper.  They are fixed at a speed and distance because they operate at fixed infrared light wavelengths. The electronics are available as a module that plugs into a switch or router, often called a GBIC.  They are also available as a standalone device with its own power supply.  They have a duplex fiber connector and a female RJ-45. This is a brand that has been reliable yet affordable for me....  http://www.signamax.com/index.php?typ=SXE&showid=31
To select electronics you need to know:
what kind of fiber you have - single mode or multimode - and its size in microns example 62.5u
what kind of connector is on the fiber - ST, SC, LC are the most common but there are others
what is the distance between closets - 1000BaseSX may be used for shorter runs of multimode (220 meters) while 1000BaseLX may be used on a long run of single mode (15 kilometers).
You will have to match a patch cable from your patch panel to the electronics.  They make patch cables with different connectors at each end.  ST to SC is common.  
Network_PadawanAuthor Commented:
Thats fantastic thanks guys.
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