What Are the Differences Between Single Mode and Multimode Fiber Optics?

 In Air Blown Fiber Optic Cabling, Fiber Optic Cabling

Fiber optic cables have been a viable technology dating back to the 1970s. They are made of very thin pieces of glass that transmit light very effectively. Today, advances in fiber optic cable allow installers and technicians to install cables quickly and efficiently, including single-mode and multimode fiber optic cables. In today’s blog, CKC Data Solutions explains the differences between single-mode and multimode fiber optics.


Fiber optic cables are made of very small glass fibers that efficiently move light over long distances. The core diameter of single-mode fiber optics is much smaller than multimode fiber optics. 

Single-mode fibers are about 9 µm (micrometers or microns), or 9 one-millionths of a meter. For comparison, a human hair is about 75 microns in diameter.

Multimode fiber optics range from 50 to 62.5 microns in diameter, which is still smaller than the width of a human hair. As such, multimode fiber optics have better light-gathering capabilities.


Single-mode fiber optics may be smaller in diameter, but they have better bandwidth. The reason is that the smaller diameter prevents reflection of light along the glass sheath. Multimode fiber optics still offer great bandwidths for data transmission over distance, but they aren’t as good as single mode. CKC Data Solutions can explain what bandwidth requirements you need for optimal performance based on your requirements.


Distances come into play for single-mode and multimode fiber optics. Single-mode fiber optics are better for long distances because they can handle more bandwidth with less signal degradation (due to fewer reflections). If you have to connect fiber optics from one building to another across a large campus, single-mode fibers are the way to go. Within a building, multimode might work better.


Single-mode fiber is inherently cheaper than multimode fiber. However, the transceivers for multimode fiber optics are anywhere from two to five times cheaper than single-mode. Multimode transceivers use less power, which is important if you have a data center with thousands of links.

Fiber Optic Cable Installation by CKC Data Solutions

Talk to the experts at CKC Data Solutions about fiber optic cable installation for your facility. We’ll recommend the type of fiber optics that are the best for your needs. Contact CKC Data Solutions online or call (417) 812-5251 for more information on what we can do for you.

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