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Single Mode vs Multimode Fiber Cable

  • Last Updated : 25 Nov, 2021

Optical Fibre Cables are based on the idea that light can be confined within a bent glass rod by total internal reflection. Nowadays, optical fibers are used in carrying telephone, television, and computer signals from one place to another. 

An optical fiber consists of a core surrounded by cladding where the core is the denser medium and cladding is the relatively rarer medium. On the basis of the mode of propagation of light there are two kinds of fiber cables:

  1. Single-Mode Optical Fibre Cable : 
    SMF (Single-Mode Fibers) is the fiber cable that is designed to carry only a single mode of light that is the transverse mode. These are used for the long-distance transmission of signals.
  2. Multi-Mode Optical Fibre Cable : 
    Multimode fiber cables are the type of fiber cables that transmit data via their core of larger diameters enable an average, single-mode transceiver multiple modes of light to propagate through it. However, this limits the maximum length of transmission links possible due to modal dispersion. These fibers are thus used for the short-distance transmission of signals.
Single-Mode Optical Fibre CableMulti-Mode Optical Fibre Cable
Designed to carry only a single mode of light – transverse mode.Designed to carry multiple modes of light at once.
Used for long-distance transmission of signals.Used for comparatively shorter distance transmission of signals.
Narrower modal dispersion is present.A large range of modal dispersion is possible.
They have a smaller core of about 9 micrometers (µm) in diameter.The core diameter is 50 µm or above.
Practically there is no or less degradation of signals.There is much more degradation of signals.
Handling or manufacturing them is quite difficult as coupling light becomes difficult with distance.Easier to manufacture and handle.
Not only the cable cost but on average, single-mode transceivers are costing 1.5 to 4 or 5 times the cost of the multimode transceivers depending on the data rate.Multi-mode optical fiber cables for usage in short distances are more cost-effective compared to single-mode fibers. 
Single-mode fibers can be classified as the OS1 and OS2 types having applications at wavelengths 1310nm and 1550nm respectively.OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4, and OM5 fiber types are the most common forms of multimode fiber.
Single-mode fiber can carry signals at a much greater speed.Signal speed is relatively slower in multimode fiber cables. 
A laser, or laser diode, is used in single-mode bandwidth devices to create light that is injected into the cable.A light source for multimode devices is generally an LED or a laser.
Single-mode fibers have higher bandwidth compared to multimode fibers as much as 100,000 GHz.Multimode fibers have lower bandwidth to offer.

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