Comparing Cables to Cables: Multi-Mode VS Single-Mode Fiber Optic

by | Mar 15, 2022

In today’s comparing segment, we paired up two comparable fiber optic cables. Just like many other wires and cables, multi-mode and single-mode fiber optic cables appear to be similar but have differences that can later have significant impacts on the success of any application.  

Single-Mode Fiber Cable 

Considered the most basic form of optical fiber, single-mode fiber cable transmits waves directly to the middle while avoiding the dreaded margin wave reflections. All of this is done in a very compact setting, as the middle is not only narrow but small, measuring a whopping 5 to 10 microns in diameter. 

Single-mode fiber optic cable is typically utilized in telecommunication lines as well as in applications from the internet. To accomplish this, you do not only need lots of fiber optic spooled together but also enough to reach your projects requirements. For example, one single mode fiber optic cable’s waves are capable of reaching 60 miles.  

image to display single-mode fiber optic cable
image to display multi-mode fiber optic cable

Multi-Mode Fiber Cable  

Different to single-mode fiber cable, multi-mode fiber cable is the intricate form of optical fiber. Multi-mode fibers are noticeable larger than those of single mode, resulting in a diameter that is 10x larger. Due to the girth, light beams can flow not only through the middle but also reflect off the margins. Another difference to single mode is that multi-mode fiber cables are typically utilized to transfer waves across small distances such as connecting computer networks. 

How do they weigh up against each other? 

When it comes to similarities, the only real one is that they both transmit fiber optic waves. One for shorter distances (multi-mode), while the other for longer distances (single-mode). In addition, single-mode allows a wave to only travel through the middle of the fiber while multi-mode allows for waves to reflect off the margins of the middle. 

Z-Tronix Inc. Multi-Mode & Single-Mode Fiber Cable 

If when choosing between cables you are quite unsure or confused, don’t hesitate in speaking with one of our many Z-Tronix Inc. wire & cable experts by completing the request for quote form below, calling us at 562-808-0800 or emailing us at