Difference between Multimode Fiber and Single-mode Cables

Both the Multimode fiber and single-mode fiber cables are used widely however you need to make sure
that you know what the difference between them is. There is a basic difference in the color type of fiber, fiber distance as well as the cost of the fiber in multimode cable and single-mode cables.

The single-mode cable is one that will allow only one sort of light mode to be propagated at once. So, when you buy a fiber optic cable then these are the things that you will need to know and take care of. The Multimode wire is one that allows the light to propagate in multiple modes.

Multimode Fiber

The basic difference in these two types of wires lies in the core and the length and diameter of the fiber core, bandwidth, core fiber sheath, and more including the distance and cost of the wire. However, here is an in-depth understanding of how this differentiates the two wires:

Core Diameter

The diameter of a single-mode cable is much smaller than a multimode fiber cable so the light gathering ability of the multimode fiber is much higher. The typical diameter of the single-mode cable is at most 9 micrometers whereas the multimode cable diameter is about 50 micrometers.

The attenuation of the multimode fiber is much higher too because it offers much more space in the fiber optic network cable than the single-mode fiber. When you buy a fiber optic cable remember that the attenuation in a single- mode is significantly reduced owing to the low amount of reflection in this cable.

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Wavelength and Light source

You will be able to use much more cost-effective light sources like LED in the Multi-mode cables
because they work at an average of 850-1300 nm of wavelength as compared to the more expensive light sources.

This owes to the large core size of the multi-mode cable and ultimately when you buy a fiber optic cable the store you need to remember this advantage over the single-mode cable. The single-mode
fiber cable often uses a laser or laser diode to inject light into the cable. The most commonly used single-mode fiber wavelength is around 1310 nm to 1550 nm.


The multimode fiber cable is limited to the bandwidth that it can offer because it allows more than one light mode to pass at a time whereas the single-mode fiber cable allows you to make sure that you are buying an unlimited bandwidth in the cable because you will only be using a single light mode that is allowed to pass through the cable at a time. When getting bulk fiber optic cable, you will need to make sure of this.

Color Sheath

According to the TIA-598C definition which states that for applications other than military use the single-mode fiber cable is coated in yellow whereas the multimode fiber cable is coated yellow so that you will be able to make a conscious choice when you go out to buy your fiber optic network cable.

How Do you know what type of Fiber you need?

The most important thing that you will need to consider when you are making your decision between the two types of fiber optic network cables is what type of distance are you looking at and what is the cost range.

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If your distance does not extend a few miles and the budget is up to $800 then the multimode fiber
optic cable is the perfect one for you. Because at this range your cable will also not interfere with the data with excessive attenuation and the data will be transferred efficiently.

If the distance that you want to cover is more than 5 miles then it is probably better to consider single-mode cable and with this, the cost will range up to $1000. Read: 4 Advantages of Cable TV as Home Entertainment Choice

Cons of the Multimode Cable

The con that you will need to make sure that you consider is the attenuation because there will be a high level of attenuation in multimode fiber as compared to the single-mode. This is one of the reasons why you need to be careful when buying bulk fiber optic cables. You will need to consider the interference that you will have to make up for in long distances.

Cons of the Single-mode Cable

The single-mode cable is going to be much more, sometimes even twice as expensive as the multimode fiber. This is the biggest con that you will have to face when it comes to the single-mode cable.


Make sure that no matter what cable you decide to get you must know what it is that you are looking for and the main things that you will need to consider are the usage, bandwidth requirement, distance, and ultimately the cost of the cable.

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