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The news about Wideband Multimode Fiber came out back in 2015. Later, in 2017 the ISO/IEC went for a ballot on nomenclature for WBMMF. Standards-making bodies decided that the nomenclature for this newly developed fiber would be OM5. The ANSI/TIA-492AAAE standard got approved for publication in June 2016, and it deals with the specifications of the OM5 cable.


The significance of OM5 Cable in Upcoming Years

The OM5 Cable is designed to assist data center managers in dealing with higher bandwidth demands and escalating data rates. According to various studies, the cloud center traffic is going to see a surge in the upcoming years. Cisco forecasted that > 95% of all data center traffic would be cloud-oriented by 2021.


The rapid migration and adoption to cloud architectures and the capacity of cloud data centers to deal with significantly higher traffic loads are two significant reasons behind cloud data centers deployment and cloud traffic growth. In OM5, wavelengths boost each fiber`s capacity by a factor of four at least. Here, it is to be clarified that either a fourfold data-rate increase or a fourfold cut in the number of required fibers can be achieved in OM5 based networking architectures.

What Makes OM5 Different than Other Multimode Options?

WBMMF or OM5 is designed to carry multiple signals generated at different short wavelengths. These signals can be aggregated for applications where high bandwidths are required through a technology called wavelength division multiplexing or WDM. In short, OM5 can accommodate multiple wavelength signals and allows them to travel simultaneously across a single fiber strand. In this way, the capacity of a fiber cable can be increased by four times. Moreover, the implementation of wavelength division multiplexing based systems can bring a net reduction in the number of required fibers by four times.



Multiple Wavelengths means More Capacity.

As we have discussed above, the OM5 is designed to accommodate four WDM channels (at least) at 28Gbps (minimum) speed per channel. Unlike OM4, OM5 uses four separate operating windows; 850nm, 880nm, 910nm, and 940nm. On the other hand, OM3 is specified to work in the 850nm window only. Here, it is important to be clarified that the earlier multimode optical fiber cables can transmit and receive signals generated at wavelengths>850nm. However, their tendencies and applicability cannot be predicted as there is no test data and adequate information available. Whereas, OM5 guarantees the utilization of four channels between 850nm and 953nm. Thus, around four times increase in capacity can be anticipated with OM5. The above-displayed graphics is exhibiting a quick comparison between the capacities of OM3, OM4, and OM5. Here, it is important to note that the OM4 MMF cable can carry only 1.4x more capacity than OM3 over a meter of fiber cable. Key Feature of OM5 Include:

  • Clearly specified EMB (effective model bandwidth)
  • 840nm to 953nm fiber cable attenuation
  • Backward compatibility with OM4 with condensed chromatic dispersion at 850nm

Advantages over OM3 and OM4

Being a newly developed and modern MMF type OM5 offers better performance over previously dominating OM3 and OM4 especially when used with BiDi transceivers and SWDM. Both OM3 and OM4 can support Bidi PMD sublayers and SWDM but with reduced reach.

Cost Effectiveness

Over the past few years, the cost of the single-mode transceivers has declined. Still, the difference in costs is around 50% relative to multimode fibers. Thus, OM5 can be considered as a cost-effective solution for migration to up to 400Gbps transmission speeds.

Easy Installation and Management

In a 40G/100G network configuration, multimode connectivity in conjunction with MTP/MPO systems results in a more user-friendly solution for campus and building backbones as well as data centers. OM5 MMF is a better choice when it comes about cable installation, cleaning, troubleshooting, and overall maintenance.

Seamless Migration to 400Gbps

OM5 MMF is designed to deliver higher value for distances up to 500 meters (while operating at up to 40Gbps data rates). Moreover, it allows a smooth and seamless migration to 400Gbps for up to 150m spreads. However, single-mode fiber is considered as a more viable solution for distances beyond 500 meters.


Characteristics of WBMMF

Certain features make wideband multimode fiber better than other available multimode fibers. Besides its capability of increasing MMF`s utility and extending of MMF`s value to domestic consumers, wideband multimode fiber has various other benefits such as:

  • WBMMF supports wavelength division multiplexing across a wavelength range of 840-953nm at 30nm intervals.
  • There is no difference between the fiber geometry of OM4 and OM5. This ensures its backward compatibility with OM4 multimode fiber where the 850nm window is utilized. Thus, OM5 allows users to retain the support of OM4.
  • Wideband Multimode Fiber (OM5) increases fiber`s capacity to as much as 100 Gb/s per fiber. Thus, it can support Ethernet 1600G-SR16, 400G-SR4, 100G-SR and Fiber Channel based 128G-SWDM4.


OM5 Multimode Fiber is presented as a future generation option for data centers. Right now, the industry is watching at the declining prices of single-mode fibers and associated equipment. However, OM5 is a reliable medium that can be considered especially in data center deployment and expansion. The capability of managing communications through multiple wavelengths and over a single fiber makes OM5 a robust network medium.