OM3 vs OM4 Multimode Fiber: Which Should I Choose?
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OM3 vs OM4 Multimode Fiber: Which Should I Choose?

Posted on by FS.COM

Multimode fiber (MMF) offers users the opportunity to extend link distances, increase network reliability, and lower costs by centralizing electronics. OM3 multimode fiber has been widely deployed for short-wave 10G optical transmission by utilizing laser-optimized fiber. OM4 multimode fiber is designed to support high-speed networks such as data centers, financial centers and corporate campuses. We may be baffled at the difference between OM3 and OM4 multimode fiber, this passage would decode OM3 vs OM4 and provide you a selection guide.

om3 vs om4

OM3 And OM4 Fiber Overview

OM3 fiber and OM4 fiber are both laser-optimized multimode fibers with 50/125 core, which are designed to meet the ISO 11801 standard. The OM3 fiber spec indicates that OM3 fiber is mainly designed for 10 Gb/s transmission speed, but it also can run under 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s. As an advancement of OM3 fiber, OM4 fiber is chiefly used for 10G, 40G and 100G Ethernet. OM3 and OM4 fiber have a minimum 2000 MHz*km effective modal bandwidth (EMB, also known as laser bandwidth) and 4700 MHz*km EMB bandwidth respectively. You can check this in the following table. For OM3 and OM4 compatibility, OM4 fiber is completely backwards compatible with OM3 fiber.

Fiber Type Minimum modal bandwidth MHz-km
Overfilled launch bandwidth Effect laser launch bandwidth
850 nm 1300 nm 850 nm
OM3 1500 500 2000
OM4 3500 500 4700

OM3 vs OM4 Speed

OM3 fiber is designed for 10G Ethernet transmission and thus it is generally the best choice for 10 Gigabit Ethernet over Multimode fiber. If you need longer transmission distance, OM4 multimode fiber is an ideal option. Besides, both OM3 and OM4 fibers support 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s speeds. 40G and 100G Ethernet uses parallel-optics transmission technology, among which data is simultaneously transmitted and received over multiple fibers. The 40G interfaces are 4x10G channels on four fibers per direction, then OM3/OM4 cable terminated with 8/12 fiber MTP/MPO connector can be used for 40 Gb/s transmission. 100G interfaces are 10x10G channels on 10 fibers per direction, then OM3/OM4 cable terminated with 24 fiber MTP/MPO connector are supposed to support 100 Gb/s.

OM3 vs OM4 Distance

Both OM3 and OM4 multimode fiber can be applied to 1GbE, 10GbE, 40GbE and 100GbE applications, but their transmission distance varies. You can check the maximum transmission distances of OM3 and OM4 under different transmission speeds in the below figure. OM4 fiber distance is longer than OM3 fiber distance based on 10 Gb/s. But the maximum transmission lengths of OM4 under 10G remained controversial. As a rule of thumb, it is recognized as 400m. But it still can achieve up to 500m, or even 550m if the OM4 fiber with ultra high quality is being used.

850 nm Ethernet Distance

Fiber Type

1G

10G

40/100G

OM3

1 km

300 m

100 m

OM4

1 km

550 m

150 m

OM3 vs OM4 Color

Laser-optimized OM3 and OM4 multimode fiber are defined as an aqua jacket, and thus they share the same color. But it is not a easy way for technicians to identify OM3 and OM4 fiber optic cable, especially when staring at the front of a panel where all the adapters look the same. A new violet color for OM4 was introduced to solve this problem, which is also called Erika Violet. But the violet OM4 color has only been applied in Europe and several American companies so far. As for FS.COM, the outer jacket of standard OM3 and OM4 fiber cable terminated with LC, SC, ST and FC connectors is aqua. In terms of OM3 and OM4 cable ended with MTP/MPO connector, OM3 is an aqua jacket while OM4 is an Erika Violet jacket.

OM3 vs OM4 Price

OM4 fiber cable is about twice as expensive as OM3 cable. The cost for OM4 is greater due to the manufacture process and market fluctuations. The lower price of OM3 cable attributes to the currently produced production volumes. In a large extent, cost depends on the construction type of the cable (loose tube, tight buffered, etc.). Therefore, the cost difference of lots of fiber products such as standard fiber patch panels, MTP cassette modules, and fiber patch cords is very small (as the volume of cable is small). At FS.COM, the price discrepancy between OM3 and OM4 fiber optic cable is slight—the OM3 cable price is ranging from $1.3~$13, while OM4 is from $1.7~$12.

Should I Choose OM3 or OM4 Fiber?

If you require higher data rates or plan on upgrading your network in the near future, laser optimized OM3 or OM4 fiber optic cable would be the logical choice. OM3 cable is future proofing for most applications, and it can leave more wiggle room in optical budgets. OM4 fiber optic cable provides users a transmission solution over longer distances that may be needed in some data centers. FS.COM offers the cost effective solution for OM3 and OM4 fiber optic cables with various combinations of LC, SC, ST, FC, and MTP/MPO connectors. They are optically tested for insertion loss to ensure high quality. On top of that, we provide customizing service, you can customize standard patch cable here for fiber count, fiber type, connector type, polish type, cable rating and cable length.

Related Article: Multimode Fiber Types: OM1 vs OM2 vs OM3 vs OM4 vs OM5

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