Many decisions come into play when installing fiber optic cabling. By far, one of the most important questions is whether to install singlemode or multimode. This decision has huge implications for your network’s distance, bandwidth, and budget, so it’s vital to understand the differences between these two types of fiber optic glass.
Before we discuss each type of fiber, here are some definitions:
Optical fiber: The glass portion of a fiber optic cable – no jacketing or strength members included. An optical fiber is made up of a light carrying core surrounded by cladding. The cladding prevents light from escaping the core, effectively keeping the signal moving down the glass.
Singlemode fiber: a fiber featuring a small light-carrying core of about 9 micrometers (µm) in diameter. For reference, a human hair is closer to 100 µm. The core is surrounded by a cladding that brings the overall diameter of the optical fiber to 125 µm.
Multimode fiber: a fiber with a core of 50 µm or above. A larger core means multiple modes (or rays of light) can travel down the core simultaneously. Just like single mode, the core is surrounded by a cladding that brings the overall diameter of the optical fiber to 125 µm.
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