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Differences Between Switch Optical Ports and Electrical Ports
Knowledge Base + 2024.01.30

Switches come in three types: those with only electrical ports, those with only optical ports, and those with a mix of both electrical and optical ports. There are two main port types: optical and electrical. The following information outlines the differences between switch optical ports and electrical ports, compiled by Walsun.


Optical ports on switches typically require the insertion of optical modules for data transmission over fiber optics. In cases where there is a shortage of electrical ports on the switch, some users may insert electrical port modules into optical ports to transmit data over copper cables. Common optical port types for switches include 155M, 1.25G, 10G, 25G, 40G, and 100G.

Electrical ports on switches are equipped with integrated electrical port modules, eliminating the need for optical-electrical conversion. The interface type for electrical ports is RJ45, and data transmission only requires the insertion of Ethernet cables. Common electrical port types for switches include 10M/100M/1000M and 10G. For speeds of 1000M and below, Category 5 or Category 6 cables are sufficient, while speeds of 10G and above require Category 6A or higher cables.

Differences Between Switch Optical Ports and Electrical Ports:

Different Transmission Rates: Optical ports commonly support transmission rates of 100G and above, while the maximum rate for electrical ports is typically 10G.

Different Transmission Distances: Optical ports, when fitted with optical modules, can transmit data over distances of up to 100 kilometers, whereas electrical ports, connected by Ethernet cables, have a maximum transmission distance of around 100 meters.

Different Interface Types: Optical ports accommodate optical modules (e.g., 10G optical modules) or electrical port modules, with common interface types including LC, SC, MPO, and RJ45. Electrical port modules only support RJ45 interfaces.

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