Single Mode vs. Multimode Fiber Optic Cables

Single Mode vs. Multimode Fiber Optic Cables

High transmission speeds, EMI resistance, impressive distance—fiber optic cables are incredibly capable wires used by a wide variety of industries. Single mode and multimode are two different types of fiber optic cables that tech professionals often find themselves choosing between. Each fiber optic type has its own set of advantages and drawbacks for different applications, which greatly impact network distance, budget, and bandwidth. CableWholesale looks at single mode vs. multimode fiber optic cables and explores both of their specificities so you can make the right call.

Single Mode Fiber Optic Cables

As their name indicates, single mode fiber optic cables utilize single optic fibers. This type of optical fiber has a tiny core—with a roughly 9-micrometer diameter—that carries light. That’s 91 micrometers tinier than a strand of hair! To make single mode fibers more visible and for quality protection, manufacturers give single mode fiber optic cables cladding that bumps up the overall cable diameter to 125 micrometers.

Multimode Fiber Optic Cables

Multimode fibers have a core with a diameter of 50 micrometers or greater. Due to its larger core, a multimode fiber can transfer more rays of light at once. Multimode fiber optic cables also have cladding for protection, leaving the cables with a diameter of 125 micrometers as well.

Keep in Mind…

There are a lot of misconceptions about single mode and multimode fiber optics that are worth noting before you start your search for the right cable. We disclaim some of those common misconceptions below:

  • You cannot discern the difference between single mode vs. multimode fiber optic cables visually.
  • Their names are not correlated to the number of optical fibers in the cable. Single mode cables can contain hundreds of optical fibers, but we still consider them single mode since that’s what kind of optical fibers are inside.
  • Some folks automatically assume multimode is the better of the two fiber optic cables. However, your preference will rely on your application, as we’ll discuss below.

Which Fiber Optic Cables Should You Use?

When choosing between single mode vs. multimode fiber optic cables, you’ll first need to consider the application you intend to use the cables for. While multimode may transfer more light, it also experiences modal dispersion, as the varying light rays reach the other end of the multimode fiber at varying rates. Multimode cables are not ideal for great distances, but they are ideal for companies with limited budgets.

With single mode fiber optics, you can send high bandwidth signals over longer distances. For any installations over 1000 ft, and if your budget allows, opt for single mode fiber optics. Purchasing wholesale fiber optics helps make the cable more affordable.

If you’re looking for optical cables to buy online, refer to CableWholesale. We have a vast selection of fiber optic products, including bulk fiber, converters, and connectors. Create the network you need with our wide variety of high-quality cables and cable management products. We offer a lifetime warranty on much of our inventory to ensure that you get the most out of your investment in your network.

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