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Is it possible to connect a switch to a hub with a distance of 100 meters or more?

I am expanding my network to about a distance of 250 meters. I was able to connect a computer to a hub 250 meters away using an utp cable. But when I replaced the computer with a 10/100 Mbps switch where I intend to connect two more computers, I found out that the computer that I have connected without the switch was unable to access the network or the Internet. I tried using a crossover cable but it could not connect. When I connected a hub instead of a switch I was able to connect. Isn't it possible to connect a switch to a hub with a distance of 100 meters or more? I tried reducing the utp cable to 100 meters, still it can't connect. Do you have some ways of extending my connection to about 250 or 500 meters without using a hub? I guess there are no more repeaters available these days.

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I'm quite stunned to hear that you managed to get a workstation talking to the network through a 250 meter UTP cable! The specifications these cables have, and the rules by which we need to play define a maximum of 100 meters for any UTP Cat5 cable, assuming it's for a 10/100 Mbps network. If you tried to run gigabit, then this is reduced to 25 meters!

I'm also puzzled over the fact that you connected the switch at the other end when the cable was around 100 meters and that didn't work. There are a few possibilities for this:

  1. Dusty or corroded contacts on either end;
  2. The cable was picking up EMI from some source near by (was it close to power cables?)
  3. There must be something odd about the switch you are using or it's extremely sensitive to the cable's length.

If there is another switch around, you could perhaps use that, but it would be more of a patch job, rather than dealing with the problem correctly.

The best possible solution for you would be to use fiber optic cable instead of UTP. There are some really good products out in the market that will convert UTP to fiber optic and then back to UTP. I cannot remember the vendor's name, but they are widely used here in Europe.

Here's a simple diagram to give you an idea how they are placed between a workstation and a switch:

Switch===utp===|converter|-----fiber----|converter|====utp===wrkstn

A setup like the following would be most probably your best solution, with requiring extra switches or hubs.

This was first published in October 2003

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