What's the difference between Single vs Multimode Fiber Optic Cables

With the rapid advancements in the tech world, fiber optic cables are becoming more and more popular every day. It seems that all IT consumers want to get their hands on the fastest internet. In 2022, the best way to get a fast internet connection is to have a fiber-optic network. But buying fiber optic cables is not as easy as it sounds. There are a multitude of different options available to choose from and if you are not a pro at networking, you might need some guidance. And so in this article, you will learn about single mode and multimode fiber optic cables, their types, the differences between them, and how you can choose the right one for yourself. Read on to learn.

Single Mode Fiber Optic Cables

Single-mode and multimode are the types of these cables. The former type has only one optical fiber at its core which transmits signals on a light beam. Therefore the name is “single mode”. These cables are faster than their counterparts, primarily because of the single beam. The fiber is an extremely thin tube called a ferrule. The core of a single-mode fiber optic cable has a diameter of 9 microns. To get an idea of how thin that is, consider the diameter of an average human hair which is 70 microns. 

Multimode Fiber Optic Cables

Multimode cables transmit data via multiple beams of light. These cables have a thicker core as compared to their counterparts and because of that, these cables are used for short-distance transmissions inside buildings. Over long-distance transmission, the signal integrity doesn't keep intact due to the wider core. 

Fiber Optic Cable Connectors

The following are the four types of Fiber Optic cable connectors that you can get. Lucent Connector (LC): Lucent connector is also referred to as an LC connector that has a 1.25 mm ferrule. This is a highly compact fiber optic connector that allows for a greater number of connections in highly dense networks. It uses a push-pull mechanism - perfect for reliable and strong connections.  Subscriber connector (SC): SC connector is also known as a square connector due to its shape. This connector has a ferrule size of 2.5mm and it also uses a push-pull mechanism. It is mostly used in single-mode optic fiber connections.  Ferrule Connector (FC): The ceramic connector is round in shape and the first 2.5mm ceramic ferrule. It uses a screw mechanism to connect in single mode fiber optic connections. These days it is getting replaced by other connectors due to its insertion loss.  Straight Tip Connector (ST): As the name implies, this connector has a straight tip and is used in single-mode connections. It is commonly used in commercial settings with a high-performance requirement and it uses a bayonet-style plug and socket. 

Difference between Multimode and Single mode 

The main difference between the two types is primarily based on how signals are transmitted via them. But depending on the applications of the cables, they can be differentiated even further.

  • Mode: Single-mode cables use only one beam of light and multi-mode cables use more than one. 
  • Core: Multimode fiber has larger cores as compared to single-mode and that allows for more than one beam of light to be transmitted via multimode cables.
  • Transmission distance: single-mode cables are more reliable for long-distance transmission as compared to their counterparts. 
  • Data transfer rate: Single-mode cables have more data transfer rates than multi-mode cables.

How to choose a fiber optic cable?

  • Transmission distance: Fiber Optic Cables are excellent at transmitting data over long and short distances. However, multimode cables are better for short-distance transmission and single-mode are better for long-distance transmission.
  • Network Speed: Almost all of these cables provide fast network speeds and you can get any cable without worrying about its performance. 
  • Cable Jacket: You can get the cables with a PVC jacket because they do not use electrical signals and are immune to overheating from within. 
  • Connectors: You have to be extra careful with the connectors. If you have multimode cables, be sure to get connectors that are compatible and if you have single-mode cables, also be sure to get compatible connectors.