Single Mode vs Multimode Fiber Cable

4 mn read

Data can now be transmitted around the world in a matter of seconds, thanks to fibre optic technology. Single-mode and multimode fibre (MMF) cable types are commonly used in various applications.


The variations between single-mode and multimode fibre are still a source of confusion. Still, the cable transmission is quicker and with no degradation in efficiency as compared to copper cable. Signals are sent down hair-thin threads of glass or plastic fibre in fibre optics.


The light is “directed” down the “heart,” which is the fibre’s centre. The heart is encased in an optical film known as “cladding,” which uses an optical technique known as “total internal reflection” to trap light in the centre. The centre and cladding are typically made of ultra-pure glass. 



A fibre’s ability to propagate only one kind of light mode at a time is referred to as “single-mode.” The term “multimode” refers to the power of fibre to propagate information in several ways. The heart is encased in cladding, an optical material that traps light in the centre using the “total internal reflection” technique. The insulation, which includes fibre and power, reinforces the cable level. The critical differences between single-mode and multimode fibre are the fibre core’s diameter, wavelength and light source, bandwidth, colour sheath, distance, and cost.

Single Mode Fiber Optic Cable

Broadband networks rely heavily on single-mode transmission. In a single-mode fibre optic cable, a small diametral core allows only one light mode to spread. Long-distance, higher-bandwidth runs are widely used by telcos, CATV operators, and colleges and universities. They are useful in indoor situations with a maximum distance of 2000 metres and support up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet. It’s made to send data over long distances, so it’s ideal for cable television networks and college campuses. Single-mode optical fibre can only transmit the lowest order bound mode at the wavelength of interest. OS1 Single-mode cables are PeakOptical’s speciality.

Single-mode cables are designed to relay light down the thread in a single direction. Since it only has one mode of propagation, it can spread at 1310 or 1550 nm. Multimode optical fibre is optimised for short-distance runs, whereas single-mode optical fibre is well-known for long-distance applications. Single-mode patch cords have greater bandwidth than multimode fibre, but they need a light source with a narrow spectral bandwidth. Single-mode fibres have a much smaller centre than multimode fibres. The single-mode thread has a faster transmission rate and can go up to 50 times further than multimode fibre, but it is also more costly.

Multimode Fiber Optic Cable

Due to these alternate paths, the different light ray classes, referred to as modes, arrive at the receiving point separately. The pulse, which is made up of many processes, begins to spread out and lose its shape. Due to the need to leave space between pulses to avoid overlapping, the amount of data sent is reduced. This type of fibre is suitable for transmitting data over short distances. Multimode fibres have core diameters of 50, 62.5, and 100 micrometres, respectively. On the other hand, multiple light paths can result in signal distortion at the receiving end, leading to noisy and incomplete data transmission over long cable runs.

Inside The Multimode Fiber

Since multimode cables are used for local-area networks, they are referred to as “domestic” fibre. Multimode Ethernet can reach speeds of up to 100 Gigabits per second. Light in the centre curves helically rather than zigzagging off the cladding due to the graded index, decreasing its travel path. Because of the shorter distance and faster speed, light from the periphery will reach a receiver simultaneously as the steady yet straight rays from the core axis.


Single-mode fibre cable can withstand longer distances due to lower attenuation, but it is more expensive. Although multimode fibre cable has a larger core, it is usually built-in 50/125 and 62.5/125 configurations. It allows for the propagation of several light modes. The signal strength is reduced over long distances due to the high dispersion and attenuation rate of this fibre type. Because of the small core and single light-wave, any interference caused by overlapping light pulses is virtually eliminated, resulting in the least signal attenuation and fastest transmission speeds of any fibre cable type.


It’s important to note that the naked eye can’t tell the difference between single-mode and multimode optical fibres (unless you have Superman’s vision). It’s usually used for LED-based fibre optic equipment for short-distance transmissions. Multimode fibre may appeal to new fibre installers because the name means that more data is sent over the cable. However, “multimode” refers to several beams of light travelling down the centre of the fibre in various directions at the same time. When light waves pass through the cable’s heart, they scatter along with multiple routes or modes. 


Since multimode cables are used for local-area networks, they are referred to as “domestic” fibre. Multimode fibre allows for transmission lengths of up to 10 miles and the use of relatively low-cost fibre optic transmitters and receivers. The minuscule core of a single-mode, on the other hand, restricts dispersion, allowing higher bandwidth signals to be transmitted over longer distances. Single-mode cable necessitates single-mode transceivers, which are significantly more costly than multimode counterparts.



Even if the cost per foot of single-mode cable is low, the electronics difference will drive single mode device costs well above those of multimode. One of the main reasons we suggest multimode fibre over single-mode fibre in short-distance applications is this. Multimode transceivers often use less power than single-mode transceivers, which is critical when calculating the cost of power and cooling a data centre.

A multimode solution will save a lot of money in a massive data centre with thousands of connections, both in terms of transceivers and power/cooling. Multimode optical fibres, on the other hand, have larger cores that can simultaneously direct several modes. The larger core makes capturing light from a transceiver much more superficial, allowing source costs to be managed. Fibre optics cables are also used for Wall Mount Cabinets.

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