Single Mode vs Multi Mode Fiber. Which Should you Pick?

Single mode vs. Multimode
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With internet speeds getting faster and faster, the demand for fiber optic cabling is going to continue to rise as time goes on. Devices like cameras, VOIP phones, and eventually computers are going to need higher data transmission meaning that copper cabling will no longer be sufficient for communications cabling ₂. In the blog below we will go over what you need to know to decide if single mode or multimode fiber is right for you.

Single Mode Fiber Comparison: G.652 vs G.655
Single Mode Fiber Configuration. Image derived from:

There are two distinct types of fiber; one is single mode, and the other is multimode. To be able to know what is right for you review the following: Bandwidth, Distance, Attenuation (Signal Loss), and Cost₁.

Bandwidth, or data transfer is essential to consider when selecting the type of fiber, you need. Single mode fiber has a higher bandwidth threshold so you can carry greater amounts of data across longer distances. The reason this is possible with single mode and not multimode is because of the size of the micron core. The smaller core size allows for less propagation occurring meaning more data can be sent through without interruption.

The next factor to consider is distance. As explained above single mode is better to use when running fiber across longer distances. Multimode should not be used over longer distances due to the core size and the amount of interference in signal that can be caused when running the fiber .

Necessary Tips for Fiber Optic Cable Installation
Multimode and Single Mode Fiber Setup. Image Derived From:

Any piece of technology can have some type of attenuation, or loss of signal. This is especially prevalent with fiber. Multimode fiber tends to have more attenuation once again because of the core size. Since more light passes through a multimode core compared to a single mode core, there is more room for light reflecting meaning that you will lose signal .

The last factor to consider is Cost. If you compare fiber to copper, copper will always come out to less expensive compared to fiber. When choosing between single mode and multimode you must think about the overall length of the fiber runs. Typically, you will run single mode fiber for longer runs and multimode fiber for the shorter runs. A multimode fiber system will cost you less than a single mode system, but you will have to stick to shorter runs to decrease signal attenuation .

You will also have to consider testing. A technician needs to have the specific tools to be able to test single mode and multimode. Due to the smaller core size, single mode fiber will need more expensive equipment to be able to hit the smaller core size. The cost of multimode fiber testing will be less as you will not need more elaborate equipment.

CCG Techs Josiah and Shomari preparing to splice fiber using a Illsintech Swift KF4A.

This can be a lot for an average person to understand. Whatever your fiber needs are, you can count on Caton Communications Group to provide you with affordable pricing to fit your fiber needs. Fill out our cabling quote form to get started today!

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