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Single Mode vs. Multi Mode Fiber Optic Cable

There are two different kinds of fiber optic cables - multi mode fiber, and single mode fiber.

Which fiber optic network patch cable is the right fit for your data network? Let's check out the pros and cons of each to determine which one might be the right cable for you.

by Vikas Dayal • February 08, 2024

Fiber Optic Cables


There are two different kinds of fiber optic cables - multi mode fiber, and single mode fiber. Which fiber optic network patch cable is the right fit for your data network?

What Kinds of Fiber Optic Cable Are There?

Fiber optic cable technology works by transmitting data through pulses of light traveling to and from your device across glass filaments at the speed of light. The word "fiber" here refers to the many superfine glass or plastic filaments contained within the cable jacket, whereas other types of cable would typically contain traditional copper instead. These glass or plastic cores consist of a flexible, transparent fiber drawn to a diameter that's even more fine than a single strand of human hair.

There are two different types of fiber optic cords - multi mode fiber, and single mode fiber. Which fiber optic network patch cable is the right fit for your data network? Let's check out the pros and cons of each to determine which one might be the right cable for you. 

Single Mode Fiber Optic Cables

It's easy to think that "more" means "better," especially when you have your high-speed data network in mind. But believe it or not, it's very possible that single mode fiber cables are the best option for you.

While it is true that multi mode fiber optic cords are better at handling a heavier load than single mode cables, especially where a complex data network is involved, there are some situations where single mode fiber optic cables (also known OS2 fiber optic) is the right choice.

The first and most significant reason is that single mode fiber optic network patch cables can provide you with virtually unlimited bandwidth. They have a smaller core than multi mode cables, resulting in smaller loss. This lower insertion loss comes with the added perk of a longer life cycle, and more besides. 

Cables.com offers a variety of configurations, including APC (Angled Physical Contact) Single mode Cables and Single mode LC to SC 8/125 micron cables made with the highest quality Corning glass fiber strand at their core. These hair-fine glass cores are contained within standard yellow PVC jackets, some of which are riser-rated, and they're factory tested for optimum performance. They also feature ceramic ferules to ensure optimal data transfer. Our green APC connectors are polished at an 8-degree angle, while blue UPC connectors are polished with no angle, but are slightly curved for better alignment. Our LC to LC Single Mode Fiber Optic Cable with Flexible boots offers the security of a booted connectors that fit snugly into receptacles without sacrificing flexibility, allowing for up to 90 degree bending on either end. 

Multi Mode Fiber Optic Cables

Multi mode fiber optic cables usually feature a standard aqua blue jacket, which might make them hard to distinguish from each other. Datacomm manufactures both our OM3 and OM4 cables in the US, and they're assembled using high-quality materials for optimum performance. But there are different types of multi mode fiber cables! 

OM3 fiber optic cable is rated for 10GB up to 300 meters. They're capable of transmitting at speeds at 40GB up to 150 meters, or even 100GB up to 100 meters. Meanwhile, our OM4 fiber optic cords can achieve 40G performance over 150 meters, and 100G over 100 meters. Like our OM3 cables, these fiber patch cables are a big step up from copper cables. They're available in the same variety of configurations as the OM3 cables, but it's important to keep in mind that whichever cable you decide on for your data network, you'll always have the option of purchasing in custom colors and lengths from Cables.com

Which Fiber Optic Cable is Right for You?

In terms of speed and reliability of your internet connection, single mode is the best option by far. The noteworthy downside is that it's priced accordingly. While single mode fiber cable only allows for one type of light mode to be transported at any given time, multi mode fiber cable allows for multiple types. Cables.com offers both 10Gb OM3 and 40Gb OM4 Fiber optic cables. Our OM3 cables are capable of transmitting data of speeds up to 40Gb up to 150 meters, and our OM4 cables can achieve a performance of 100G over 100 meters. 

Contact Us

With so many options, it's understandable that you might not be sure where to start. Cables.com wants to make your cables-shopping experience as easy and convenient as possible. Use our Quick Patch Finder tool to narrow your options down based on your cables need. You also have the option of purchasing Custom Cables, combining your choice in cables with the configuration or jacket color you would like. 

SHOP NOW: Single Mode LC/LC Fiber Optic Cables - Multi Mode OM4 Fiber Optic Cables - Custom Color Fiber Optic Cable


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