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Is multimode fiber faster than single mode?
Knowledge Base + 2023.12.08

Multimode fiber generally supports lower data transmission speeds and shorter distances compared to single-mode fiber. Single mode fiber can support higher data transmission speeds and longer distances, making it faster than multimode fiber in most situations.

Single-Mode Fiber Optic Cables Single-mode fiber optic cables are designed to carry a single beam of light, which is a “mode.” These cables use lasers operating at 1310 to 1550 nm wavelength as a light source and are typically used in long-distance telecommunication applications. Single-core cables can also be used as sources of decorative illumination, as they can project light in specific patterns. The core diameter is only 8.5μm and are much smaller than the multimode cables.


Single-mode fiber optic transmissions are faster than multimode over long distances because fewer switches or routers are needed mid-span.

Virtually unlimited bandwidth capacity

Capable of transmitting data at up to 40Gb over hundreds of kilometers with little integrity loss

Over greater distances, such as thousands of kilometers, this cable can send data at speeds of up to 10Gb

Single-mode cable and connectors are generally less expensive than multimode.

DWDM technology allows the C-Band (1530 to 1565 nm wavelengths) to be divided into up to 192 discreet channels per fiber pair. Each channel can carry 100 Gbps. That translates into 19.2 Tbps (TeraBits per Second)


Single-mode solutions are often more expensive to deploy and operate since laser-based equipment generate more heat.

The lasers required are costly and can be used with only one cable at a time

The dependency on lasers means that single-mode cables are less versatile and more limited in their applications

Multimode Fiber Optic Cables

Multimode fiber optic cables have thicker core diameters (typically 50µm) than single-mode cables.. These thicker fibers allow the cable to carry light of various modes at 850 to 1300nm wavelengths. They can use an inexpensive light-emitting diode as a light source. Laser Optimized Multimode Fiber (LOMMF) can also make use of a Vertical Cavity Surface-emitting Laser (VCSEL). Multimode cables are most often used in a single building and data and A/V applications in LANs, because of their ability to carry multiple modes of light, and because the cables can use less expensive light sources. The most commonly installed multimode fibers installed today are LOMMF OM3 and OM4.


Multimode cables are less expensive to operate, install, and maintain

High speed and high bandwidth over short distances

Allow several mode optical signals to be transmitted at once


Multimode cables are more limited in both speed and distance

The maximum speed of an OM4 multimode cable is 100G depending on distance, and only up to a distance of 400 to 550 meters. For OM3 fiber the maximum distance is 300 meters. At 2 kilometers, it is only capable of transmitting 100Mbit. 


How to Convert Multimode to Single-Mode Fiber and Vice Versa for beginer's guides