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Singlemode vs Multimode Fiber Optic Cable

One of the most desirable transmission medium in a data center environment is the fiber optic cable due to a series of advantages regarding the bandwidth capacity, distance run, immunity to interferences and security of communication. General structure of a fiber optic cable.

Aufbau Glasfaser

The Structure

The structure common to all optical fiber cables consist in thin as hair core that conducts light full of information data. The core is surrounded by an optical material called the “cladding” that traps the light in the core using an optical technique called “total internal reflection.”

The core and cladding are usually made of ultra-pure glass. The fiber is coated with a protective plastic covering called the “primary buffer coating” that protects it from moisture and other damage. More protection is provided by the “cable” which has the fibers and strength members inside and an outer covering called a “jacket”.

Single-mode Fiber Optic Cable

A Single-mode fiber optic cable has a small diametral core that allows only one mode of light to propagate. Because of this, the number of light reflections created as the light passes through the core decreases, lowers attenuation and creates the ability for the signal to travel further.

Singlemode Patchkabel

Singlemode Glasfaser

Multi-mode Fiber Optic Cable

Multi-mode optical fibers have larger cores that guide many modes simultaneously. The larger core makes it much easier to capture light from a transceiver, allowing source costs to be controlled. Because of this, the number of light reflections created as the light passes through the core increases, creating the ability for more data to pass through at a given time. Because of the high dispersion and attenuation rate with this type of fiber, the quality of the signal is reduced over long distances.

Practical Differences between Single-Mode and Multi-Mode Cables

Single-mode systems are usually more expensive because of the laser diodes and precise calibration required to inject light into the cable. The costs of single vs multi-mode cables itself are negligible, but single-mode devices often cost more. Light travels a longer distance inside single-mode cables than it does inside of multi-mode cables. How much farther depends on many factors, but the rule of thumb is, single-mode signals can survive up to 160 kilometers. The bandwidth (amount of information in the signal) of single-mode is higher than multi-mode. Since the entrance core of single-mode is so small (9 microns), single-mode connectors must be kept very, very clean. Even a microscopic particle blocking the pupil can partially or completely block signal. This tiny core requires precision alignment to inject light from the transceiver into the core, significantly driving up transceiver costs.

Unterschied Singlemode Multimode

Cost Difference Multimode Singlemode

Cost Difference

The single-mode transceiver optics are more expensive than Multi-mode based transceivers, however single-mode is the only fiber that can justify the term “future-proofed” due to its massive bandwidth possibilities and extended reach of many kilometers.

Design considerations

When specifying equipment for use in a fiber optic connection system the following factors must be taken into consideration:

  • The type of fiber cable being used
  • Thickness
  • Refractive index
  • Absorption spectrum
  • Geometry
  • The wavelength of light being used
  • The characteristics of the light source
  • The spectral linewidth (frequency range) of the source
  • The characteristics of the receiver devices
  • The modulation method
  • The method of varying the light to represent data bits


Pre-terminated fiber cables are considered as a convenient and cost effective solution for today’s fiber optic network, which help to save up to 65% installation time. Pre-terminated fiber cables are generally divided into trunk cables, harness cables and patch cables.