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Why is SMF better than MMF?
Knowledge Base + 2023.12.08

There are a few reasons why single mode fiber (SMF) is generally considered better than multimode fiber (MMF):

1.Higher bandwidth: SMF has a smaller core diameter and only allows a single mode of light to pass through, resulting in higher bandwidth and longer transmission distances compared to MMF.

2. Longer transmission distances: SMF can transmit data over much longer distances than MMF without experiencing loss of signal strength or distortion.

3. Immunity to modal dispersion: SMF is not affected by modal dispersion, which occurs in MMF due to the various light paths that can be taken by the multiple modes in the larger core.

4. Compatibility with higher data rates: SMF is better suited for supporting higher data rates and emerging technologies, making it a more future-proof option for network infrastructure.

5. Better for long-term investment: As technology continues to advance, SMF provides a more reliable and versatile option for accommodating future network expansion and upgrades.

Frequently Asked Question about Single Mode vs Multimode Fiber Optic Cable

Q: What is better single mode or multimode fiber type?

A: As has been mentioned above, single mode fiber and multimode fiber cable have their own advantages on cost and applications. There is no such thing that single mode optical fibers are better than multimode ones. Just choosing the best-fit one for your applications is ok.

Q: Can I mix single mode and multimode fiber type?

A: This answer for this question is “no”. Multimode fiber and single mode fiber have different core sizes, and the number of light modes that they transmit is also different. If you mix the two fibers, or connect them together directly, you’ll lose a large amount of optical loss, resulting in a link flapping or being down. Keep in mind that never mix different types of cabling randomly.

Q: Can I use a multimode transceiver on single mode fiber optic cable?

A: Generally speaking, the answer is "no". Large optical loss will occur if a multimode transceiver is connected with single mode fiber. However, the opposite will work. For example, 1000BASE-LX single mode SFP can work on multimode fiber cable by using mode conditioning fiber cable. Sometimes, fiber media converters also can be used to solve such problems between single mode transceivers and multimode transceivers.

Q: Single mode vs multimode fiber optic cable type: which should I choose?

A: When making a decision between single mode and multimode fiber cables, the first factor to consider is the fiber distance which you need actually. For example, in a data center, multimode fiber cables are enough for the distance of 300-400 meters. While in applications that require distance up to several thousands of meters, the single mode fiber is the best choice. And in applications that can use single mode and multimode fiber, other factors like cost and future upgrade requirements should be taken into consideration for your choice.