Singlemode vs multimode fiber

May 10, 2018

There are two types of cables that are commonly used with fiber: Single mode and Multimode.

Singlemode Fiber

Singlemode cables are designed to carry light directly down the fiber. It is a single strand of glass fiber that has been stretched to within the width of a human hair, with a diameter of 8.5-10 microns. With just one mode of transmission, a singlemode fiber will propagate 1310 or 1550nm.

Singlemode patch cords carry a higher bandwidth than multimode fiber, but they do need a light source which has a narrower spectral width. Compared to multimode, singlemode gives a higher transmission and up to fifty times more distance. The core of a singlemode cable is smaller than that of a multimode core.

As singlemode is designed to carry data over longer distances, it is used for things like television signals, long-range networks and within large organisations. It is vital to modern broadband networks.

Multimode Fiber

Multimode fiber has a bigger diameter than singlemode, typically around 50-100 micros. Over medium distances they give high bandwidth at high speeds. Light waves are dispersed into numerous paths within multimode cables as they travel through the core, typically 850 or 1300nm.

Multimode fiber isn’t as useful over long distances as any longer than around 914 meters results in distortion of data and unclear transmission.

Multimode is used for more domestic applications such as local-area-networks and FTTH.

Looking for more detail about fiber optic cabling? View our infographic: ‘Fiber optics: explained’.

At Carritech, we specialise in prolonging the life of telecommunications networks. Our services include sale, repair and refurbishment of new and used telecommunications equipment, many of which send and receive data via fiber optics.

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