Longevity of a transceiver

Longevity of a transceiver
In today's IT network market the use of third party SFP transceivers became common.
Customers choose them because their prices are lower than the original OEM transceivers.
Some people are afraid of using third-party modules since lower price should mean lower quality as well. While there is no problem with the quality in most cases, there is always uncertainty if they work as expected.

In the last 12 years in optical networking, we’ve met customers who choose 3rd party transceivers to cut their costs. Some of them were happy with the lower price. Yet, some of them complained after about a year that the transceivers were dropping packages. As soon as they replaced them to a different brand the problem was gone.
Those people are reluctant to use non-OEM modules due to the bad experience they had.


It is important to know what could go wrong in a transceiver.
The transceiver is not a complicated thing. It consists of housing, a printed circuit board, and two lasers. The housing rarely goes wrong. Surely, hitting it with a hammer will end up changing its dimensions but it is not lifelike.


The next part is the PCB - Printed Circuit Board.
Most of the time it is a stable part of the module. It contains an EEPROM describing the transceiver's capabilities, standard interfaces, manufacturer, and other information.


The one thing that is not obvious is the quality of the lasers.
These are responsible for transmitting and receiving the data over the fiber cable.
When out of the factory all lasers are new and work as they should.
Yet, during the time of usage lasers lose their power. It is a natural process affected every laser on the market including OEM ones. The only question is how fast they lose their power. This is an issue if you are on the limit of the distance the transceiver can work on.
Higher distances like 80 km ZX or ZR SFP transceivers are more affected by quality issues than lower ones like SX/SR. High speed also requires better components of the network’s parts. While it is possible to get away with low quality components on 1 gigabit network. Using the same components on higher speeds like 10 gigabit, 40 gigabit or even 100 gigabit can become disastrous. General rule of thumb to keep in mind that low-quality laser will degrade faster over time.


In the example, written above the transceivers were equipped with low-quality lasers. They started dropping packages very soon.
A good laser is capable of functioning over the decades without the need to replace them. The only reason to change the transceivers should be migration to higher speeds.


It is sad, since there is not so much difference between the price of a high or low-quality laser. But as in the automotive industry, a small cost reduction per piece can result in huge saving in masses.


Unoptix transceivers only use quality lasers sourced from Mitsubishi, Opnext(Hitachi). All are reputable companies in laser production. Without the need to focus on laser-related problems we can provide a lifetime warranty for our products. In our philosophy, a cost cut does not mean quality degradation.
In a competitive industry, one can always find a cheaper alternative but should always keep in mind to maintain the quality. In the long run, a lower quality product will end up higher costs over maintenance.
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