Fiber optic cables are a popular choice for data transmission due to their high speed and durability. There are several different fiber optic cable types, each with its own set of characteristics and uses. Some of the most common fiber optic cable categories include single-mode fiber and multimode fiber. Let’s take a look at the different cables within each of these categories and how they work.
How do fiber optic cables work?
Fiber optic cables consist of a core, made of glass or plastic, and cladding, which is also made of glass or plastic. The core is surrounded by the cladding, which has a lower index of refraction. This difference in refractive indices between the core and cladding creates total internal reflection, enabling data to be transmitted at high speeds.
What are the standard core sizes of the fiber optic cable types?
The core of fiber optic cables is measured in microns (µm). The core size of multimode fiber cables is 50µmand 62.5µm, while single-mode fiber cables are measured in 8-9µm.
What is single-mode fiber?
Single-mode fiber (SMF) is made with a very thin core, measuring 8-9µm. The small core size enables the fiber to carry only one light mode or signal. This fiber is used for long-distance data transmission, as it is not affected by fiber bending or fiber stretching.
What is multimode fiber?
Multimode fiber (MMF) is made with a larger core, typically measuring 50µm to 62.5µm in diameter. This fiber can carry multiple light modes, allowing it to carry data at high speeds over short distances. MMF is commonly used for fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks and fiber-to-the-node (FTTN) networks.
What are the standard wavelengths of the fiber optic cable types?
Fiber optic wavelength is measured in nanometers. Multimode fiber wavelengths are 850nm and 1300nm, while single-mode fiber wavelengths are 1310nm and 1550nm.
Fiber optics carry different frequencies of light or wavelengths. The wavelength is like a color of light, and fiber optic cables are typically made to transmit one of two colors: 850nm or 1310nm. These two colors are part of the near-infrared spectrum and are invisible to the human eye.
What is the difference between 850nm and 1300nm fiber optic cable?
When using multimode, 850nm fiber optic cable is the most common type of fiber used in data transmission. It has a lower attenuation rate, meaning it can carry data with less signal loss. The 1300nm fiber optic cable is less common, but it has a higher bandwidth than the 850nm fiber, making it better suited for high-speed data transmission.
In single-mode fiber, the 1310nm cable is the most popular fiber type because of its high bandwidth and ability to carry data over long distances.
What are the different single-mode fiber type and multi-mode fiber optic cable types?
Within the broad categories of single-mode fiber types and multi-mode fiber optic cable, we can break down the technical specifications and naming conventions further.
A breakdown of each single-mode fiber type
OS1 cables are typically used in local or indoor applications such as fiber to the desktop (FTTD), fiber to the home (FTTH), and fiber to the node (FTTN). These cables have a tight-buffered fiber coating, making them more crush resistant and easier to install than loose-tube fiber cables. The OS1 standard supports speeds up to 10G and distances up to about 10km (6 miles).
OS2 cables are typically used in long-haul or outdoor applications such as fiber optic backbone and fiber optic backhaul lines. These cables have a loose-tube fiber design, which makes them more flexible and a simpler installation in ducts and conduits. The OS2 standard supports speeds up to 100G and distances up to about 200km (124 miles).
A breakdown of each multi-mode cable type
OM1 fiber is the most common type of fiber used in local area networks and private networks. It has a core diameter of 62.5 microns (µm) and can support data rates up to 1Gbps at distances at an 850nm wavelength and distances of 300 meters. The OM1 cable is defined by an orange jacket.
OM2 fiber is an enhancement of the original OM1 fiber. The only difference is that it has a core diameter of 50 µm which allows it to support data rates up to 1Gbps at 850nm wavelength and distances of 600 meters, which is twice the distance of OM1. It has the same orange jacket as OM1 fiber.
OM3 fiber cables are also known as laser-optimized multimode cables. They’re commonly used in larger private networks and are easily identified with an aqua jacket color. The main difference between OM2 and OM3 fiber is that the core of an OM3 fiber is 50 µm, which allows it to support data rates up to 10Gbps at 850nm wavelength and distances of up to 300 meters.
The cable uses fewer modes of light which results in increasing speeds. For example, with an MPO connector, you can expect the cable to run 40GB or 100GB up to 100 meters.
Another laser-optimized multimode cable, the OM4 fiber can support data rates up to 10Gbps at an 850nm wavelength and distances at 550 meters. It’s also able to support 10GBASE-SR, 10GBASE-SW, and 10GBASE-LW applications. The fiber is identified with an aqua-colored jacket. You’ll typically find OM4 cables being used in high-speed networks such as financial centers, data centers, corporate campuses, or similar.
A newer fiber type, the OM5 fiber is designed to support Short Wavelength Division Multiplexing (SWDM). This cable uses a wider range of wavelengths between 850nm and 953nm, which allows it to support 40GBASE-SR4, 100GBASE-SR10, and 100GBASE-SW4 fiber applications. The fiber is typically identified with a lime green jacket color. OM5 is fully compatible with both OM3 and OM4 cabling, meaning it can adapt to a wide range of wavelengths between 850nm and 953nm.
So, whether you’re looking for fiber optic cable types to use in your enterprise network or data center, OM1, OM2, OM3, and OM4 should be your go-to options. If you need a fiber that can support higher speeds and greater link distances, OM5 fiber is the way to go.
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