Arguably, fiber optic cables are the most advanced method of connecting to the internet. Optical fiber cables support the fastest and most efficient internet connections. Moreover, the main types of optical fiber cables: single mode and multimode are easy to set up too. This blog explores all you need to know about fiber optic cables and their main types. Read on to find out more.
Understanding Fiber Optic Cables
Fiber optic cables, also referred to as optical fiber cables are made from thin tubules of glass. The glass tubes are thinner than a single strand of human hair. Data packets in devices are converted into light which is transmitted across to other devices in the same light form. Since data is transferred in the form of light, remarkable speeds can be achieved that approach the actual speed of light. This is the reason why both single-mode and multi-mode fiber optic cables are able to transfer data at extremely high speeds.
These cables do achieve unmatched data transfer speeds but they have their fair share of drawbacks too. The innermost part of the cable is known as the core. It is extremely fragile and can break easily under the slightest impact. To ensure its safety, it is covered by another layer which is called ‘ferrule’. The ferrule protects the cable and it does not
Optical fiber cables come in two main types: single mode and multi-mode. Further, the connectors of these cables are available in hundreds of different types. Each connector is designed for a specific purpose and for specific devices. But the most commonly used fiber optic cable connectors are the Lucent Connector (LC), Subscriber Connector (SC), Straight Tip Connector (ST), and Ferrule Connector (FC). More on the connectors in the later parts.
What is Multimode?
Multi-mode fiber optic cables are designed to transfer multiple beams of light simultaneously. In regular fiber optic cables, data is transmitted across other devices on a single light beam. In contrast, multi-mode cables allow for multiple beams of light to carry data across other devices simultaneously.
These cables have a larger core which allows for more than one beam of data-carrying light to pass through. The core of the cable is the innermost tube that is made from glass.
Multi-mode fiber optic cables are used at short distances. In data centers particularly, these cables find their best use because in server rooms, devices are connected at short lengths and you do not have to worry about attenuation slowing down the connection speeds.
What is Single mode?
Single-mode fiber optic cables have a thinner core. Meaning that the interior glass fiber of the cable is relatively thinner which allows only a single beam or mode of light to propagate through. When only a single light mode propagates through the cable core, the attenuation levels decrease dramatically, allowing the light mode to travel further.
That is the reason why single-mode fiber optic cables are used to connect entire continents via the internet. Single-mode fiber optic cables are more efficient and can transfer data at faster speeds.
So the difference between both types of fiber optic cables is pretty much established by their names: Singlemode and Multi mode. Single-mode Fiber Optic cables are designed to transmit data at long distances. It is achieved by only allowing a single mode of light to propagate through. Whereas multi-mode fiber optic cables are designed for short-distance transmissions. That is the reason why multi-mode cables are able to transmit more than one mode or beam of light at a time.
Attenuation, which is the reduction in the power of light when it travels, is a major problem in fiber optic cables. And these cables are made differently to counter that problem. By allowing only a single beam of light to propagate through, these cables are able to transmit light at longer distances. And when the distances are short, attenuation is not a problem which is why multimode fiber cables are used at short lengths.
Multi-mode fiber optic cables
The following are the major types of multi-mode fiber optic cables. They all are available in different connector types e.g. LC to LC, LC to SC, etc.
- MULTIMODE 62.5/125 OM1
- MULTIMODE 50/125 OM2
- MULTIMODE 50/125 OM3
- MULTIMODE 50/125 OM4
Single-mode fiber optic cables
The following two cables are the types of single-mode optical fiber cables. Like the multi-mode ones, these are also available in different connector types such as ST to ST, ST to FC, etc.
- SINGLEMODE 9/125 OS1
- SINGLEMODE 9/125 OS2
Which Fiber Optic Connector to Choose?
Ferrule Connector (FC)
The ferrule connector is made from ceramic, plastic, or metallic materials which keep the cable protected. The fiber cable is inserted into the ferrule and sealed with an epoxy or adhesive to make the connection stronger.
Lucent Connector (LC)
The ferrule diameter of the lucent connector is a meager 1.25mm. It is quite small in size and ideal to use in networks where a large number of connectors are needed to be connected.
Straight Tip Connector (ST)
The straight tip connector utilizes a bayonet-style plug and socket mechanism. It is quite durable. When first rolled out, it was the most common connector for commercial wiring but now it is used for residential wiring as well.
Subscriber Connector (SC)
Subscriber connectors have a square-shaped body that uses a push and pulls mechanism to connect and disconnect, respectively. The connector itself is made from plastic and it is most popular for LAN networking. If you use fiber optic patch cables at home, chances are that the patch cords have this connector.
We hope this blog on fiber optic cables and their types: single mode and multimode was of help to you. Here’s one last pro tip: if you need optical fiber patch cables for your home or office, always get the multimode ones.