Advantages and Disadvantages of Multimode Fiber
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Advantages and Disadvantages of Multimode Fiber

Posted on by FS.COM

Recently, fiber optic cable becomes more popular in telecommunication because of its great bandwidth, fast speed, long distance transmission and low cost. Fiber jumper cables are generally divided into single mode fiber and multimode fiber. They differ greatly in their design and purpose though both of them use the same basic principles. Each type of cable has its own advantages and disadvantages that make them ideally suited for a particular environment. And you can’t mix them up and have to choose exactly the mode you need, because the two modes aren’t compatible with each other. Multimode fiber, as its name implies, propagate more than one mode. Then how much do you know about multimode fiber? You may get some clue in this article.

Multimode Fiber Overview

Multimode fiber is a kind of optical fiber mostly used in communication over short distances, for example, inside a building or for the campus. Typical multimode links have data rates of 10 Mbit/s to 10 Gbit/s over link lengths of up to 600 meters (2000 feet)—greater than sufficient for almost all premises applications.

Multimode patch cord is generally 50/125 and 62.5/125 in construction. It means that the core to cladding diameter ratio is 50 microns to 125 microns and 62.5 microns to 125 microns. Multimode fiber cable can be divided into OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4 and OM5 based on the types of multimode patch cord. The letters “OM” stands for optical multimode. OM1 and OM2 belong to traditional multimode fiber cable, and they support the Ethernet standards from 100BASE to 1GBASE with a minimum data rate of 100 Mbps and a maximum data rate of 1 Gbps. While OM3 fiber and OM4 fiber belong to the new generation fiber patch cable which provides sufficient bandwidth to support 10 Gigabit Ethernet up to 300 meters. OM5 fiber was created to transmit 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s and reduce fiber counts for higher speeds.

multimode fiber

Advantages Of Multimode Fiber

Although single mode fiber patch cable is advantageous in terms of bandwidth and reach for longer distances, multimode fiber easily supports most distances required for enterprise and data center networks at a cost dramatically less than single mode fiber. Besides, multimode fiber cable still has many significant advantages.

Multi-user framework

The biggest feature of multimode fiber relies on its ability to carry multiple signals at the same time in the same line. Therefore, the network user can send more than one packet in the cable at the same time, and all information will remain unchanged after reaching their destination.

High Power Signal Transmission Capacity

Multimode fiber is excellent when it comes to carrying a high amount of total power inside the signals. The power carries almost no loss, and the information is easy to be delivered at the other end of line with out any interference.

Real-time Data Transmission

In the design of the optical fiber data transmission speed, the high speed of optical transmission network is derived from the data rather than traditional electromagnetic signal. So the soft real-time system is feasible to use the network in some given scenario.

Support of Multiple Protocols

Multimode fiber can support many data transfer protocol, including Ethernet, Infiniband, and Internet protocols. Therefore, one can use the cable as the back bone of a series of high value applications.


With a larger fiber core and good alignment tolerances, multimode fiber and components are less expensive and are easier to work with other optical components like fiber connector and fiber adapter, and multimode patch cords are less expensive to operate, install and maintain than single mode fiber cables.

Disadvantages of Multimode Fiber

However, each coin has two sides. Multimode fiber has high dispersion and attenuation rate, the quality of optical signals is reduced as the transmission distance is getting longer. Therefore, multimode fiber cable is often used in data and audio/video applications in LANs. In other words, multimode fiber cable is much more limited in both speed and distance.


Due to its high capacity and reliability, multimode fiber is usually used for backbone applications in buildings. In general, multimode optical fiber continues to be the most cost-effective choice for enterprise and data center applications up to the 500 – 600 meter range. But it’s not to say that we can substitute single mode fiber with multimode fiber cable, as for whether to choose a single mode fiber patch cord or multimode patch cord, it all depends on applications that you need, transmission distance to be covered as well as the overall budget allowed.

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