Difference Between Multi-mode and Single-mode
Fiber Optic Cabling?
Fiber Optic cables are made of thin strands of glass or fiber. The fiber optic cables
enable faster data transmission with a low attenuation rate.
The core of the fiber optic cable is surrounded by an optical material called the
cladding that traps the light in the core using an optical technique called total
The core and cladding are made of ultra-pure glass. The fiber is coated with a
protective plastic covering called the primary buffering coating that protects it
from moisture and other damage. The cable is enclosed within an outer covering
called a jacket.
Fiber optic cables are available in two types: Single-mode and Multi-
Single-mode fiber optic cable has a small diametral core that allows only one
mode of light to propagate. It lowers the attenuation and allows the signals to
travel further. This application is typically used for long-distance and higher
Multi-mode fiber optic cable has a large diametral core that allows multiple
modes of light to propagate. The number of light reflections created as the light
passes through the core increases, creating the ability for more data to pass
through at a given time. The high dispersion and attenuation rates of this type
of fiber reduce the quality of the signal over long distances.
Single-mode vs Multi-mode fiber optic cable: The difference between a single-
mode and multi-mode fiber optic cable mainly lies in fiber core diameter,
wavelength and light source, bandwidth, colour sheath, distance, and cost.
Core diameter: The core diameter of a single-mode fiber optic cable is much
smaller than a multi-mode fiber optic cable. The higher core diameter of multi-
mode fiber optic cable enables it to have higher light gathering ability and
simplify connections. The attenuation of multi-mode fiber optic cable is higher
because of its larger core diameter.
Wavelength and Light source: The large core size requires lo