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26 Feb 2016

Fiber optic cables are the medium of choice in telecommunications infrastructure, enabling the transmission of high-speed voice, video, and data traffic in enterprise and service provider networks. Generally speaking, there are two major kinds of fiber-optic cabling: single-mode and multi-mode.

While it's not impossible to get the two types to interact with the right transceivers and intermediate hardware, there's significant signal loss involved in the transition and, therefore, much higher power requirements to re-boost it. It's best to simply lay the kind of fiber that best meets your needs.

What Makes Multi-Mode Fiber Different

The significant difference in multi-mode is the size of its "core," the actual glass wire which holds/transmits optical signals. While single-mode uses a very thin core, which isolates the laser to a single beam, multi-mode allows it to reflect back and forth within the core. The following factors make multi-mode fiber superior to single-mode fiber in some certain aspects.

1. Specifically designed for use with “cheaper” light sources.
  • The wide core lets you use incoherent LED light sources.
  • Or cheaper, less precisely aimed lasers (such as VCSELs).
  • And reduces tolerance requirements for alignment of connectors.
2. But this comes at the expense of long-distance reach.
  • The wide core allows multiple modes of light to propagate.
  • This causes “modal distortion”, which severely limits distance.
  • Typically limited to 20-500 meters, depending on the signal type.
3. Augmented with “laser optimized” (OM3) MMF
  • Uses aqua colored cables, rather than the traditional orange.
  • Designed to achieve 10Gbps at 300 meters with VCSEL lasers. For example, both Finisar FTLX8571D3BCV and NETGEAR AXM761 SFP+ transceiver can reach distance of 300m over OM3 multi-mode fiber at the max data rate of 10 Gbps.
Typical Uses For Multi-Mode Fiber

1 - A Fiber Backbone Broadly, the most common application for multi-mode is to create a backbone for a company's network. If you're looking at 802.11ac or newer WiFi access points, a multi-mode fiber backbone is virtually required to get top speeds out of your access points.

2 - High Speed Local Deployments Some businesses, especially those dealing in very large data sets, are starting to simply roll out multi-mode throughout their office. If your employees are regularly sending gigabyte-sized files around, this is currently one of the best options for boosting their transmission speeds.

3 - "Fiber To The Telecom Enclosure" (FTTE) As a compromise between the two above options, some companies split it down the middle. The fiber connection continues past their server, and goes to a "Telecommunications Enclosure" (TE) which is in a central location, near to the employees connected to it.

It's an affordable way to deliver fiber, almost all the way to the desktop, without the higher expenses of a full wiring job. The main drawback is that your TE is nearly as vulnerable as your server room in terms of security, and would have to be tightly protected from intrusion.


When it is best to use multi-mode fiber optic cable is determined by many factors, like the distances, costs, associated transceivers, etc. It must be selected according to specific applications and needs. As one of the main fiber optical manufacturers in China, Fiberstore offer various types of fiber optic cables including single-mode, multimode as well as plenum cable, PVC/LSZ cable and so on to meet your specific applications and needs. With the higher bandwidths, flexibility, and security, all these fiber optic cables offer a promising solution to current networking challenges.


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