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Single mode vs multi mode Fiber

Single Mode vs Multimode Fiber – Which Is Better?

It Depends! What's Your Application?

Bandwidth usage continues to skyrocket. Zoom meetings, Skype, Google Meet, cloud applications, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube and other video streaming services are a few of the culprits. What we know is that bandwidth requirements aren’t getting smaller. 

Quite the opposite, in fact. In the first quarter of 2021, bandwidth usage increased 47% due to the coronavirus and employees working from home.

If you are in charge of your company’s network infrastructure, chances are you’ve seen a significant increase in the bandwidth demands from your employees. 

To keep up with these demands, ultimately, a fiber network will enter the conversation. And for good reason. Fiber optic cables provide over 1,000 times as much bandwidth as copper cables, and can travel 100 times further.

Singlemode vs. Multimode Fiber

Single Mode vs. Multimode Fiber Cables

In addition to deciding if fiber optic cables are the best path for your network, you have another choice to make. Do I need singlemode or multimode fiber? What’s the difference between singlemode and multimode fiber?  Is singlemode or multimode fiber better?

Let’s start by answering the last question.

“Is singlemode or multimode fiber better”?

The answer to this question, really depends on your application, your environment, and whether or not you have existing fiber infrastructure already. 

For starters let’s talk about the physics behind singlemode and multimode fiber. With singlemode fiber, the core size of that cable is smaller than multimode fiber. Light is carried directly down the fiber and the result is a higher data transmission speed compared to multimode. Singlemode fiber can also run longer distances than multimode. Up to 50 times more distance, in fact. 

By contrast, carrier networks widely deploy single mode fiber, while multimode fiber is widely used in data centers and LANs. 

Enter multimode fiber cables. With multimode fiber cables we’re working with a fiber cable that’s 5 to 6 times larger than single mode. As the name implies, multimode fiber allows multiple optical signals to be transmitted at the same time, over the same fiber cable. 

Without going further into the nuances of data transmission rates across singlemode fiber compared to multimode fiber, in general, multimode fiber is going to be utilized for applications with shorter distances. Say two miles or less. 

If you’re needing to cover distances above 3 miles, singlemode fiber would be a better choice. 

Again, this generalizing, but again, singlemode fiber is a better choice when it comes to running fiber cables over long distances.

What About Bandwidth?

Singlemode fiber wins in terms of both distance and bandwidth. That said, multimode fiber will easily support the distance requirements for datacenters and enterprise-level networks at a lower overall cost than a single-mode fiber environment.

How Do Singlemode and Multimode Fiber Costs Compare?

When talking about fiber network environments, cost considerations involve much more than the cost-per-foot of each fiber cable type. Comparing raw cabling costs, single mode fiber is typically going to be less expensive than multimode fiber. 

However, there are other components and factors that come into play when considering the overall cost of fiber. Transceivers and fiber connectors, for example. By design, single mode fibers require transceivers with lasers that require precision alignment as well as connectors with tighter tolerances. This increases the overall “system” cost as compared to multimode. 

Mutimode Fiber Cable Grades

Wait, there’s more? If you’re going to be using multimode fiber, you’ve also got multiple cable grades to consider. OM1 Fiber, OM2 fiber, OM3 fiber, OM4 fiber and OM5 fiber. Each of these cable grades vary in both bandwidth and distance limitations. 

It gets even better…that is if confusing is better!

Core sizes between the different cable grades need to be taken into consideration when working with fiber patch cables as well. OM1 cables have a core size of 62.5 µm, while OM2, OM3, OM4 and OM5 cable grades have  core of 50 µm. OM1 connectors just won’t work with OM2, OM3, OM4 or OM5 rated connectors. 

Can I mix Singlemode and Multimode Fiber?

Generally speaking, no. The technology needs to be the same from end to end. Connecting a multimode transceiver with single mode fiber will result in a large optical (or data) loss. BUT…..the opposite can work. Mode conditioning patch cables give us the ability to offset single mode fiber with multimode fiber, by aligning their cores. 

So if you’re investing in fiber infrastructure, you’ve got a lot of considerations to make. Cost per foot, single mode vs multimode fiber, connector costs, installation, compatibility, your upgrade path…..confused yet?

This is where it get easy…

Fiber Cabling Experts! HyFiber LLC

HyFiber can help. When it comes to fiber optic cabling, fiber patch panels, connectors, etc. it can quickly get confusing. This is where leaning on the expertise of a company like HyFiber can make your life easier. 

This is the world we live in and by asking the right questions, we’re able to build and ship fiber cables that are tailored for your specific needs. We build, test and ship both multimode and singlemode fiber optic cables and assemblies every day, and back them with our guaranteed satisfaction commitment.

Wondering what type of fiber optic cables and connectors you need for your network? Reach out to HyFiber and let’s discuss your options!

Custom cable assemblies

HyFiber is a team of cable industry experts with the knowledge to provide expert advice when it comes to your cabling needs. We can provide a full range of cables, both standard and built to your custom specifications. Whether it’s fiber optic cable assemblies, traceable fiber optic cables, or copper cable assemblies, we can supply, build and test cables that are built to perform, and built to last. Our custom patch panels (fiber patch panels) can play a vital role in your existing structured cabling solution, or an upcoming structured cabling project. 

Even more, with our expertise, we’re here to answer any questions you may have regarding cabling, fiber optic cables, connectors, and more. Ready to take your data center or server room to a new level of performance and reliability? Give HyFiber a call today!

About HyFiber

HyFiber is a full-service cable solutions provider, and a US cable manufacturer. Our extensive offering includes standard fiber optic cables, custom fiber optic cable assemblies, copper cables and copper cable assemblies, and custom built fiber panels. From custom cabling to cable installation services we are trusted by leading companies and organizations including Major League Baseball. More than building custom cables and cable assemblies, we specialize in delivering expert advice and guidance when it comes to cable solutions. Looking for a cable manufacturer you can lean on? Reach out to the HyFiber team today!

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