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USB Over Fiber?! Extend USB Beyond Its Limits

Learn about how to extend USB even farther by using fiber-optic cable and a USB over fiber extender.

USB over fiber Brandon / TechReviewer

Last Updated: October 15, 2021

Written by Brandon Jones

What Is USB Over Fiber?

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USB over fiber extenders (also called adapters, converters, and transceivers) allow for transmitting USB data at a greater distance and speed than is supported by USB cables.

There are two types of USB over fiber extenders.

The most common type of USB over fiber extender is an adapter with a USB port and a fiber-optic port. Check out my recommended USB over fiber extenders below.

A USB over fiber adapter converts a USB cable to a fiber cable, transmitting data through the fiber-optic cable via light. A second adapter converts back to a USB cable on the other side of the extension.

Transwan USB 3.0 Fiber Extender Transwan USB 3.0 Fiber Extender Check Price on Amazon (affiliate link)

The second type of USB over fiber extender has fiber adapters built into the cable. This integrated type of USB extension is easier to use and cleaner looking. However, it has less flexibility in how you can set it up. For example, if you wanted to change the length of the extension or upgrade the supported USB version, you would have to replace the entire extension cable with the integrated adapters.

If you're interested in an integrated USB extension, you can find the Light-Link USB Cable by Sewell on Amazon (affiliate link). Keep in mind that this cable only supports USB 3.0 devices.

Max Speed of USB Over Fiber

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USB over fiber extenders can reach speeds of 5 to 10 Gbps while using a USB 3.0+ device and cable along with a fiber-optic cable.

The overall speed of the connection is determined by the:

  • Max supported speed of the USB over fiber extension device.
  • Fiber-optic cable type.
  • USB cable version.
  • USB versions and speeds supported by the devices that you connect to and from the extender.
Max Speed Supported by Each USB Version
Mode NameMarketing NameBandwidth
USB 1.1 12 Mbps
USB 2.0 Hi-Speed 480 Mbps
USB 3.2 Gen 1x1 / USB 3.1 Gen 1 / USB 3.0 SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps 5 Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen 1x2 10 Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen 2x1 / USB 3.1 Gen 2 / USB 3.1 SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps 10 Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 SuperSpeed USB 20Gbps 20 Gbps
USB4 Gen 2x1 10 Gbps
USB4 Gen 2x2 USB4 20Gbps 20 Gbps
USB4 Gen 3x1 20 Gbps
USB4 Gen 3x2 USB4 40Gbps 40 Gbps

Uses for USB Over Fiber

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USB over fiber extenders are ideal for extending a USB connection farther than the USB cable's max length. Using a USB over fiber extender will allow you to keep the high connection speeds for USB 3.0 devices while extending the cable distance.

Max Passive USB Cable Lengths (Without Extension)
Mode NameRecommended Cable LengthBandwidth
USB 1.1 (Full Speed) 3 m (9 ft) 12 Mbps
USB 2.0 (High Speed) 5 m (16 ft) 480 Mbps
USB 3.2 Gen 1 2–3 m (6–9 ft) 5 Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen 2 3 m (9 ft) 10 Gbps
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (USB-C) 3 m (9 ft) 20 Gbps
USB4 (USB-C) 0.8 m (31 in) 40 Gbps

You can use USB over fiber extenders for extending the USB cable length of:

  • Video interfaces and devices, such as webcams, cameras, monitors, and video capture devices
  • Audio interfaces and devices, such as speakers, sound cards, microphones, and audio capture devices
  • Surveillance systems
  • Touch screens
  • Remote storage
  • Printers
  • Mice
  • Keyboards
  • Any other USB device that you want to use!

Downsides of USB Over Fiber

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Depending on the USB over fiber extension device, there can sometimes be compatibility issues with the devices you're trying to extend. Most extensions only support USB 3.0, resulting in USB 2.0 and USB 1.0 devices not working with USB over fiber extenders.

USB over fiber extenders can be more expensive than other solutions for extending USB cable connections but can reach greater distances while maintaining high speeds.

Max Length of USB Over Fiber

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USB over fiber can reach between 100 meters (330 ft) and 250 meters (820 ft) on average, depending on the extension device and fiber cable type. Some higher-end extenders can reach up to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

Each extender device has different limits. Most extenders can reach 250 meters (820 ft) with lower-speed USB devices and 150 meters with real-time transmissions like a high-speed USB 3.0 camera.

Extenders also have specific fiber-optic cable types that are supported, so be sure to read the requirements of each device before getting the fiber-optic cable. The grade of the fiber-optic cable determines its supported speed and distance. However, the extension device's max speed will likely be the limiting factor for USB extension purposes.

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Transwan USB 3.0 Fiber Extender

Transwan 4-Port USB 3.0 Fiber Optic Extender