The Two Different Types of Fiber Optic Cables

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The Two Different Types of Fiber Optic Cables

Fiber optics have steadily increased in popularity through the years due to the many benefits they provide. Compared to traditional copper cabling, fiber optic cables provide greater bandwidth, faster transmission speeds, enhanced flexibility, and optimum reliability. If these advantages have enticed you to consider switching from copper to fiber optic cables, it’s important to determine which type of fiber optic cables are right for your application: single mode or multimode. To learn more about the two different types of fiber optic cables, continue reading.

Single Mode Fiber Optics

Single mode fiber optic cabling is a type of optical fiber with an extremely small core and a thick sheathing. This cabling is designed to carry just one single mode of light—this refers to the pattern of electromagnetic waves in a waveguide.

Several modes can exist in a single light signal. The mode of light that single mode fiber optic cables carry is known as the transverse mode, which occurs due to the boundary conditions created by the waveguide.

Single mode fiber optic cabling is highly adept at long-distance communication. They can carry a single signal source across expansive distances of up to 100 km with low transmission loss. Because they offer optimum clarity, people often use single mode fiber optic cabling in communication applications.

Multimode Fiber Optics

The second of the two different types of fiber optic cables is multimode fiber optic cabling. As the name suggests, multimode fiber optics can carry several different light rays—or modes—at one time. To do so, multimode fiber optic cables house a large core with various optical properties. Essentially, each light ray traveling through the cable’s core has a slightly different reflection angle, which allows them to pass through concurrently.

While multimode fiber optic cables provide the benefit of transmitting several different modes at one time, they also have a few downsides. Multimode fiber optic cables have a lower range than single mode fiber optic cables. Due to the dispersion of light created in the cabling, the range becomes more limited. In addition to limited distance, multimode fiber optic cables also have slower transmission speeds than their single mode counterparts.