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How to Identify Single Mode and Multi mode Fibre Optic Cables

· Networking Cables,technology

While searching over the internet for optical fibre cables, You might confuse between single-mode fibre optic cables & multimode fibre optic cables. Most people know that single-mode fibre optic cable is used for longer distances while multimode is widely used for a shorter distance. But, what are the major differences between the two? Hopefully, I can make you understand the technicalities of both which makes it easier for you to choose the right one for you.

This doesn't mean that one is superior to the other, each has its use within the right application. But, if you notice the difference between the two, it will help you to prevent investing in the wrong cable that is not compatible with your fibre optic device.

Here, we’ll compare the single-mode vs multimode optical fibre cable which helps you to make the right decision.

Core Diameter & Distance Travelled

The core of all the fibre optic cables carries light to transmit data from source to destination. The main construction difference between the two is the diameter of the cables. Single-mode cable has a comparatively much smaller core diameter than multimode cable. Consequently, reflection during light transmission decreases, lowering attenuation which makes the signal travel a longer distance successfully.

Light Source

A Single-mode cable uses a laser as a light source. Laser light is thin & coherent. On the other hand, multimode devices generally use LEDs as a source of light.

Color Code

Each fibre will be coded with different colors for identification. While choosing among various cables, it is quite easy to distinguish them with their colors. Single-mode optic fibre has coded with yellow color while multimode optic fibre cable is coded either with aqua or orange color.

Cost & Application Difference

Single-mode fibre is more costly than multimode fibre because single-mode fibre uses laser diodes as optical transceivers (transmitter & receiver) while multimode uses LED for this purpose. Due to this, single-mode is generally used over large areas like a large college campus whereas multimode is a nice choice for LAN (Local Area Network).

Type Of Cable

Whenever you see the labels of OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4 & OM5, these all are multimode fibre optic cables. But, in single-mode cables, it is not as simple as multimode. Types of single-mode cables are as follows:

  • Standard single-mode fibre (G.652)
  • Low water peak fibre (G.652)
  • Dispersion Shifted Fibre (G.653)
  • Cut Off Shifted fibre (G.654)
  • Non-zero dispersion shifted fibre (G.655)
  • Bend-insensitive fibre (G.657)


Nowadays, single mode & multimode optical fibre cables are two widely used cables in fibre optic communication. But, it’s up to you which one you want according to your requirement as both are having distinctive features. Hope you'll have a basic understanding of both the cables with this blog.

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