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Do You Know the Difference Between Single Mode Fiber and Multimode Fiber

With regard to data transmission in optical networks, fiber optic transceiver is a vitally necessary part used for sending and receiving electrical and optical signals between facilities like computers, input/output devices, peripheral devices or switches. Based on the difference of transceiver models, optical modules can be separated into single mode optical transceivers and multimode optical transceivers with their relevant characteristics. When faced with situation for building a fiber optic network, you need to know the distinctions between single mode fiber and multimode fiber. In order to get the whole picture of it, this article will present you a brief introduction and major differences of single mode fiber and multimode fiber.

Single Mode Fiber vs. Multimode Fiber: Definition

Single mode fiber is a single stand of glass fiber with a diameter of 8.3 to 10 microns and one mode of transmission, which can propagate at the wavelength of 1310nm and 1550nm. For this reason, there is little light reflection caused when light passes through the single mode fiber core. This will reduce fiber attenuation and optimize the ability for the signal to travel further.

Multimode fiber has larger core that guides many modes simultaneously and gives rise to more transit of data through the multimode fiber core. This will create more light reflection, higher dispersion and attenuation rate. It reduces the quality of the signal over long distance.

Single Mode Fiber vs. Multimode Fiber: Differences

As mentioned above, the inner structure of single mode and multimode fiber are diverse, so what would result in this circumstance?

  • Light Propagation Types Difference

Single mode fiber has one type of light propagation: step index, while multimode fiber has two types: step index and graded index. What is more, the light propagation reduces less in single mode fiber transmission than that of multimode fiber.

  • Transmission Distance Difference

Multimode fiber has a correspondingly large light carrying core and is usually used for short distance transmission with LED based fiber optic equipment. Single mode fiber has a small light carrying core and is normally applied for long distance transmission with laser diode based fiber optic equipment.

  • Deployment Cost Difference

In terms of price, single mode transceiver costs 1.5 to 4-5 times more than multimode transceiver according to their different data rate.

Single Mode Fiber vs. Multimode Fiber: How to Choose?

It depends on transmission distance as well as overall budget. If the distance is less than a couple of miles, like 300-400 meters, multimode fiber will work well and transmission system costs, including transmitter and receiver, will be in the range of $500 to $800. If the distance is more than 3-5 miles, single mode fiber would be more suitable with the cost of more than $1000.


Single mode fiber is more effective for wide-range data applications and commonly used in carrier networks, PONs, and MANs. Multimode fiber is more suitable for shorter distance operations and used in enterprise data centers. And price is also a consideration. You can make a choice based on your needs. If you are interested in these fiber cables, Fiberstore is a good choice.

A Brief Introduction of Optical Transceiver

As an elementary part in the whole optic communication systems, an optical transceiver is a device that uses fiber optical technology to transform electrical signals into optical signals so that the information could transmit in the optical fiber. And when optical signal arrives at the destination, the transceiver then transforms optical signals into electrical signals. In general, it is a device used to send and receive information which includes two parts: a transmitter and a receiver. Nowadays, optical transceiver modules are extensively used in high-speed optical communication systems which require high performance, compact package, and low power consumption.

Different Optical Transceiver Types

There are lots of optical transceiver types, such as SFP+ (SFP Plus) transceiver, X2 transceiver, XENPAK transceiver, XFP transceiver, SFP (Mini GBIC) transceiver, GBIC transceiver, CWDM/DWDM transceiver, 40G QSFP+ & CFP, 3G-SDI video SFP, WDM Bi-Directional transceiver and PON transceiver.

How to Choose an Optical Transceiver

There is an old saying: a good horse with a good saddle, a good flower with a good pot. It shows the importance of choosing a proper type of optical transceiver for your device. Meanwhile, you need to consider some factors so as to find the right one. Based on the above, we are going to help you to go through the necessary factors so that you would have a basic understanding and know what should be taken into consideration for your choice.

  • Wavelength

It is important to understand wavelength when choosing optical transceiver since our eyes are sensitive to lights of which wavelength is in the range of 400 nm to 700 nm. While in the fiber optics, lights are used in the infrared region where wavelengths are longer than visible light. Common wavelength usually ranges from 850 nm to 1610 nm. Multi-mode fiber operates at 850 nm to 1310 nm, while single mode operates at 1310 nm to 1550 nm.

  • Compatibility

Compatibility is also an vital factor before you buy an optical transceiver. It is essential to test the interoperability and compatibility of each fiber optic transceiver. Since there are so many Brands, such as Cisco, HP, Ciena. They could lock the third party transceivers and not allow non-certified module works with their switches.

  • Transmission Distance

Comparing with the traditional copper cable, the fiber optic network has been an increasingly popular subject with the advantages of high speed, high density, high bandwidth and etc. Although the fiber optic cable could support further distance, the exact distance is still limited by many factors. Transmission distance has already become one of the problems needed to be solved urgently in the super fast optical communication. So you have to know the maximum distance in your fiber connection systems.


The whole optical communication system could not be operated orderly if there is no an optical transceiver. If you are in search of an optical transceiver, Fiberstore would be your proper choice. There are a good deal of fiber optic transceivers available with different types, which can be used for plenty of applications both in home and industrial fields. The desirable transceivers are waiting for you in Fiberstore!

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