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Comparing Single Mode and Multimode Fibers From Distance, Speed, and Wavelength

An optical fiber is a way to transmit light between the two ends of the fiber and is widely used in fiber optic cable communications. In general, there are two kinds of optical fibers: single mode fiber and multimode fiber. As the increasing integration of computers and mobile devices, the demand for optical fiber also grows. It’s important to make the right choice between single mode fiber and multimode fiber for your network. Therefore, this article will compare single mode and multimode fibers from distance, speed, and wavelength to help you to select the one suits you best.

alt Single Mode and Multimode Fibers

What Is Single mode Fiber?

A single mode fiber typically has a core size of less than 10 µm, which allows only one code or ray of light transmission wavelength up to 1310nm or 1550nm. When light passes through the core of a single mode fiber, the small size of the core reduces light reflections. Therefore it lowers fiber attenuation and increases the distance that signals can travel and preserve signal quality. Whether single mode fiber operates at 100 Mbit/s or 1 Gbit/s data rates, the transmission distance can reach to at least 5km. Thus it’s commonly used for long distance and higher bandwidth applications.

What Is Multimode Fiber?

A multimode fiber usually has a larger core size around 62.5 µm or 50 µm, which enables multiple light modes to be propagated at a given time. The core’s larger size provides more light reflections, higher dispersion, higher attenuation rate and allows more data to travel across at the cost of reducing signal quality. The maximum transmission distance of multimode fiber is about 550m at a speed of 10Git/s. It can transmit farther at lower data rates. Since signal quality drops as distance increases, multimode fiber is generally used for short-distance communications across local area networks (LANs).

Comparison of Single Mode and Multimode Fibers

In the previous section, we introduced the definitions of single mode and multimode fibers. Since single mode and multimode fibers are widely used in various fields. Therefore we will compare them from distance, speed, and wavelength so that you can understand them in depth and make the right choice for your solution.

Fiber Distance

Single mode fiber has a much longer maximum distance than multimode fiber. Single mode fiber can go as far as 10km, 40km, 80km, and even farther. While multimode fiber generally can go as far as 2km. Thus single mode fiber is ideal for long-haul application, while multimode fiber is a good choice for short-haul application. But to remember that the price rises as the distance grows.

Fiber Speed

Single mode fiber and multimode fiber are capable of achieving the same speed from 1Gbps to 100Gbps. Since the transmission radius of single mode fiber is smaller than that of multimode fiber, a single mode fiber can only be propagated by one beam during signal transmission. So that the scattering phenomenon will not be caused, and a long distance can be transmitted without deformation. Therefore, single mode fiber can support distance value from 5km to 120km, whereas multimode fiber can support distance from 100m to 550m.

Fiber Wavelength

Single mode fiber used in telecommunications typically operates at a wavelength of 1310nm or 1550nm. While the large core size of multimode fiber simplifies connections and allows lower-cost electronics to operate, multimode fiber can operate at 850nm and 1310nm wavelength.


In a data center, single mode fiber is more suitable for a large enterprise with longer distance requirement, while multimode fiber is an optimal choice for companies within walking distance. Your choice depends on the needs and considerations of your network. In addition to the fibers mentioned above, FS.COM also provides a series of single mode and multimode fiber patch cords as a cost-effective alternative to satisfy your needs such as LC/SC/FC/ST fiber patch cables, MTP/MPO fiber cables, ultra-high density cables. Welcome to visit FS.COM to find the most satisfying fibers.

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Single Mode vs Multimode Fiber: What’s the Difference?