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Duplex OM1 62.5/125 Multimode Fiber Optic Patch Cable
Duplex OM1 62.5/125 Multimode Fiber Optic Patch Cable
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Duplex OM2 50/125 Multimode Fiber Optic Patch Cable
Duplex OM2 50/125 Multimode Fiber Optic Patch Cable
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Duplex OS1 9/125 Singlemode Fiber Optic Patch Cable
Duplex OS1 9/125 Singlemode Fiber Optic Patch Cable
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Duplex OM3 10G 50/125 Multimode Fiber Optic Patch Cable
Duplex OM3 10G 50/125 Multimode Fiber Optic Patch Cable
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Duplex OM4 50/125 Multimode Fiber Optic Patch Cable
Duplex OM4 50/125 Multimode Fiber Optic Patch Cable
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What Is Multimode Fiber?

Multimode fiber (MMF) is a kind of optical fiber mostly used in communication over short distances, for example, inside a building or for the campus. Multimode fiber optic cable has a larger core, typically 50 or 62.5 microns that enables multiple light modes to be propagated. Because of this, more data can pass through the multimode fiber core at a given time. The maximum transmission distance for MMF cable is around 550m at the speed of 10Git/s. It can transmit farther at lower data rates, such as going about 2km at 100Mb/s.

multimode fiber cable

How Many Types of Multimode Fiber?

Identified by ISO 11801 standard, multimode fiber optic cables can be classified into OM1 fiber, OM2 fiber, OM3 fiber, OM4 fiber and newly released OM5 fiber. The next part will compare these fibers from the side of core size, bandwidth, data rate, distance, color and optical source in details.

multimode fiber cable

OM1 Fiber

OM1 fiber typically comes with an orange jacket and have a core size of 62.5 µm. It can support 10 Gigabit Ethernet at lengths of up to 33 meters. It is most commonly used for 100 Megabit Ethernet applications. This type commonly uses a LED light source.

OM2 Fiber

OM2 fiber also comes with an orange jacket and uses a LED light source but with a smaller core size of 50 µm. It supports up to 10 Gigabit Ethernet at lengths up to 82 meters but is more commonly used for 1 Gigabit Ethernet applications.

OM3 Fiber

OM3 fiber comes with an aqua color jacket. Like the OM2, its core size is 50 µm, but the cable is optimized for laser based equipment. OM3 supports 10 Gigabit Ethernet at lengths up to 300 meters. Besides, OM3 is able to support 40 Gigabit and 100 Gigabit Ethernet up to 100 meters, however, 10 Gigabit Ethernet is most commonly used.

OM4 Fiber

OM4 fiber is completely backwards compatible with OM3 fiber and shares the same distinctive aqua jacket. OM4 was developed specifically for VSCEL laser transmission and allows 10 Gig/s link distances of up to 550m compared to 300M with OM3. And it’s able to run 40/100GB up to 150 meters utilizing a MPO connector.

OM5 Fiber

OM5 fiber, also known as WBMMF (wideband multimode fiber), is the newest type of multimode fiber, and it is backwards compatible with OM4. It has the same core size as OM2, OM3, and OM4. The color of OM5 fiber jacket was chosen as lime green. It is designed and specified to support at least four WDM channels at a minimum speed of 28Gbps per channel through the 850-953 nm window.

OM1 vs OM2 vs OM3 vs OM4 vs OM5: What’s the Difference?

The prime distinction between multimode fibers rests on physical difference. Accordingly, physical difference leads to different transmission data rate and distance.

Physical difference mainly lies in diameter, jacket color, optical source and bandwidth, which is described in the following table.

MMF Cable Type Diameter Jacket Color Optical Source Bandwidth
OM1 62.5/125µm Orange LED 200MHz*km
OM2 50/125µm Orange LED 500MHz*km
OM3 50/125µm Aqua VSCEL 2000MHz*km
OM4 50/125µm Aqua VSCEL 4700MHz*km
OM5 50/125µm Lime Green VSCEL 28000MHz*km

Practical Difference

Multimode fibers are able to transmit different distance ranges at various data rate. You can choose the most suited one according to your actual application. The max multimode fiber distance comparison at different data rate is specified below.

MMF Category Fast Ethernet 1GbE 10GbE 40GbE 100GbE
OM1 2000m 275m 33m / /
OM2 2000m 550m 82m / /
OM3 2000m / 300m 100m 70m
OM4 2000m / 550m 150m 150m
OM5 / / 550m 150m 150m

Technical difference

Core Diameter—Single mode fiber has a small diametral core(8.3 to 10 microns) that allows only one mode of light to propagate. Multimode fiber optic cable has a large diametral core(50 to 100 microns) that allows multiple modes of light to propagate.

Light Source—Multimode devices usually use a LED or laser as a light source. While single mode devices use a laser, or laser diode, to produce light injected into the cable.

Practical Difference

Distance—Light travels a longer distance inside single mode cable than it does inside multimode. So multimode fiber is suitable for short haul application, allowing transmission distances of up to about 550m at 10Git/s. When distance is beyond 550m, single mode fiber is preferred.

Price—Multimode fiber usually cost less than single mode fiber.

Bandwidth—The bandwidth of single-mode is higher than multimode as much as 100,000 GHz.


Multimode Fiber Connectors Types

There are many multimode fiber connector types in circulation such as ST, SC, FC, LC, MU, E2000, MTRJ, SMA, DIN as well as MTP & MPO etc.
The most commonly used fiber optic connector types include ST, SC, FC and LC. Each one has its own advantages, disadvantages, and capabilities. So what are the differences and what do they mean to your implementation? This table of common multimode fiber connectors gives an overview of strengths and weaknesses.

MMF Connector Ferrule Size Typical Insertion Loss (dB) Application Features
SC φ2.5mm ceramic 0.25-0.5 Mainstream, reliable, fast deployment, filed fit
LC φ1.25mm ceramic 0.25-0.5 High density, cost-effective,filed fit
FC φ2.5mm ceramic 0.25-0.5 High precision, vibration environment, field fit
ST φ2.5mm ceramic 0.25-0.5 Military, filed fit

Utilization: Common and Uncommon Optic Fiber Connectors

No matter what the fiber connector types are, they have the same function and similar basic components—ferrule, connector body, cable, and coupling device. However, due to the performance and characteristics of these types, the utilization of them varies.

LC Connector

A Lucent Connector (LC), as one SFF (small form factor) connector, possesses a 1.25 mm ferrule. The small footprint design gives these connectors huge popularity in datacoms and makes them more ideal for high-density applications. Many tend to move to high-efficiency cabling with LC fiber connectors nowadays. LC connector is considered the most commonly-used connector at present.

SC Connector

SC fiber connector was the first connector chosen for the TIA-568 standard and is a snap-in connector that latches with a simple push-pull motion. "SC" stands for "Square Connector" due to the "square-shaped" connector body. It adopts a 2.5mm ferrule, which is twice the size of the previous LC connector. SC fiber connector is ideally suited for datacoms and telecom applications including point to point and passive optical networking. Due to its excellent performance, fiber optic SC connector remains the second most common connector for polarization maintaining applications.

MTP/MPO Fiber Connector

Unlike the previous two, the MTP/MPO fiber connector is a multi-fiber connector and larger than other connectors, which combines fibers from 12 to 24 fibers in a single rectangular ferrule. It's often used in 40G and 100G high-bandwidth optical parallel connections. The MTP/MPO fiber connectors are complicated due to the key-up and key-down, male and female issues. You can refer to our white paper Understanding Polarity in MTP/MPO System to have a better understanding.

ST Connector

ST (Straight Tip) fiber connector was created and licensed by AT&T shortly after the arrival of the FC type. The ST connector holds the fiber with a ceramic, spring-loaded 2.5mm ferrule that stays in place with a half-twist bayonet mount. They are usually used in both long and short distance applications such as campuses and building multimode fiber applications, corporate network environments, as well as military applications.

FC Connector

"FC" refers to the Ferrule Connector. FC fiber connector was the first optical fiber connector to use a ceramic ferrule. Unlike the plastic-bodied SC and LC connector, it utilizes a round screw-type fitment made from nickel-plated or stainless steel. The FC connector end face relies on an alignment key for correct insertion and is then tightened into the adaptor/jack using a threaded collet. Despite the additional complexity both in manufacturing and installation, the FC connectors still provide the choice in precision instruments such as OTDRs, as well as the choice for single mode fiber. It was initially intended for datacoms and telecoms applications but was used less since the introduction of the SC and LC. The usage of both ST and FC connectors have declined in recent years.

The abovementioned five connectors are the most commonly used ones, which are introduced based on their popularities from wide to usual. The figure below shows the different connector style:

LC-vs-SC-vs-MTP-vs-ST-vs-FC.jpg

The following four connector types are some old models that used less in today's optical transmission deployments:

MT-RJ Connector

A duplex connector uses pins for alignment and has male and female versions. Constructed with plastic housing and provide for accurate alignment via their metal guide pins and plastic ferrules.

MU Connector

Like a miniature SC with a 1.25mm ferrule. Featuring a simple push-pull design and compact miniature body, the MU connector is used for compact multiple optical connectors and a self-retentive mechanism for backplane applications.

DIN Connector

The DIN connector is round with pins arranged in a circular pattern. It encompasses several types of cables that plug into an interface to connect devices. Typically, a full-sized DIN connector has three to 14 pins with a diameter of 13.2 millimeters. It is applied for PC keyboards, MIDI instruments, and other specialized equipment.

E2000 Connector

The E2000 Connector is a push-pull coupling mechanism with an automatic metal shutter in the connector as dust and laser beam protection. One-piece design for easy and quick termination, used for high safety and high power applications.

Fiber Count: Simplex vs Duplex Fiber Connector

A simplex connection means signals are sent in one direction—a signal is transmitted through two simplex connectors and a simplex fiber cable from device A to device B, which cannot return from device B to device A via the same route. Contrariwise, the revised transmission can be achieved through duplex connectors and duplex fiber cable, which is called a duplex connection. In addition, a simplex fiber connector is often connected with one strand of glass or plastic fiber, while the duplex fiber connector needs to connect with two strands of fibers.

Simplex vs Duplex Fiber Connector.jpg

Fiber Mode: Single Mode vs Multimode Fiber Connectors

Single mode fiber allows only one light mode to pass through at a time, while multimode fiber can propagate multiple modes at a time. Diversity has an impact on single mode fiber connectors and multimode fiber connectors on account of the combination with the corresponding type of optical fibers. However, with technologies getting advanced, fiber connectors like SC, LC, and FC, provided by fiber optic connector factories are compatible with single mode and multimode fiber cables.

Polishment: APC/PC/UPC Fiber Optic Connectors

According to the polishing type, optical fiber cable connectors can be divided into three types: PC, UPC, and APC connectors. The color code provides a convenient method to identify these three types of connectors: PC's color code is black, the color code for the APC fiber connector is green, and the UPC's connector is blue. The structure and the performance of the three fiber optic connectors also vary, which reflects on the values of insertion loss and return loss. Among them, APC tends to become the preferred polishing type. PC vs UPC vs APC, the following sheds light on these connector types and their differences for you.

PC-vs-UPC-vs-APC.jpg

Termination: Field-terminated vs Pre-terminated Fiber Connector

Field termination, as its name implies, is to terminate the end of the fiber in the field. The procedure includes strip the cable, prep the epoxy, apply the connector, polish, inspect and test for the connection, requiring not only a large number of tools but also the skilled technicians to conduct the termination.

Factory termination, also called factory pre-termination, refers to cables and fibers terminated with a connector in the factory. The pre-terminated cables come in pre-measured lengths with the fiber optic connectors already installed with factory-level precision and quality assurance. Reducing the cumbersome process and tools, factory pre-terminated solutions are easier to install and require less technical skills.


Fibers with Field Terminated Connectors Fibers with Factory Terminated Connectors
PROS Cable Length Flexibility & Precision
Easy Cable Routing
Standard Procedure
Factory Polish Quality
Minimum Possible Insertion Loss
Always Passes Testing
CONS Time Consuming
Requires a Kit
Quality Depends on Skill and Components
Consumes Materials
Can Fail Testing and Must be Redone
Must-Know Lengths Exactly
Can be Too Bulky for Cable Tracks

FAQs

Do single mode connectors work on multimode cables?

Yes. you can use single mode connectors on multimode, but not the other way around.

If I have an SC connector installed and find that what I need is LC type, what should I do?

In this kind of situation, a common solution is that you can purchase an SC-SC coupler, then purchase a pre-terminated SC to LC patch cable. Adapters are also available like LC-LC or LC-SC.

What types of fiber optic connectors are available on the market?

The common types of fiber optic connectors are LC, SC, MTP/MPO, ST, and FC. LC connector tends to be the most preferred one due to its compact size, high performance, and ease of use. In addition, for multi-fiber connectors, the MTP/MPO connectors are also gaining popularity for 40G and 100G data transmissions.




What’s The Advantages of Multimode Fiber?

Although single mode fiber patch cable is advantageous in terms of bandwidth and reach for longer distances, multimode fiber easily supports most distances required for enterprise and data center networks at a cost dramatically less than single mode fiber. Besides, multimode fiber optic cable still has many significant advantages.

Multi-user Framework Without Loss Interference

Multimode fiber features carrying multiple signals at the same time in the same line. Most importantly, the total power inside the signals carries almost no loss. Therefore, the network user can send more than one packet in the cable at the same time, and all information will be delivered to their destination with out any interference and keep unchanged.

Support of Multiple Protocols

Multimode fiber can support many data transfer protocol, including Ethernet, Infiniband, and Internet protocols. Therefore, one can use the cable as the back bone of a series of high value applications.

Cost-effective

With a larger fiber core and good alignment tolerances, multimode fiber and components are less expensive and are easier to work with other optical components like fiber connector and fiber adapter, and multimode patch cords are less expensive to operate, install and maintain than single mode fiber cables.

Conclusion

Due to its high capacity and reliability, multimode fiber is usually used for backbone applications in buildings. In general, MMF cable continues to be the most cost-effective choice for enterprise and data center applications up to the 500-600 meter range. But it’s not to say that we can substitute single mode fiber with multimode fiber cable, as for whether to choose a single mode fiber patch cord or multimode patch cord, it all depends on applications that you need, transmission distance to be covered as well as the overall budget allowed.