Fiber Optics Compatibility: Single versus Multimode Fibers

Fiber OpticsThe fiber optic of SFP transceiver, as its name suggests, transmits data over an optic fiber instead of the conventional electrical cable. The most obvious advantage it has over traditional copper wires is that it is able to transmit gigabit-plus data rates at a considerably longer distance, whereas conventional wires can only transmit so little and at a significantly shorter distance.

Efficiency is arguably its best-selling point, but compatibility issues continue to plague it despite constant advancements in technology. In the realm of IT and infrastructure, your choice of fiber optic transceiver should depend on how compatible it is to other models.

Fiber Optic Compatibility: Single vs. Multi-Mode

Most businesses often encounter compatibility issues with their fiber optic transceivers simply because they don’t know how the two types operate exactly. Single fiber transceivers have a smaller light carrying core, and typically only allow one mode of light to pass through. Despite their lower ‘carrying’ capacity, they are able to transmit data at considerably longer distances, making it more applicable to telecommunication industries and other companies with higher bandwidth runs.

Multimode fiber optics on the other hand has a larger carrying capacity but only works well in short distances. The high attenuation and dispersion rate with this kind of fiber means its signal quality lessens the farther it goes, which means it better for short-distance audio and video applications, as well as the transmitting of RF broadband signals.

While single mode fibers may seem ideal, your choice still depends on what it will be used for. The HP J9150a, for example, is a multimode fiber transceiver that has a range of 980 feet. This is already encompasses a very large distance as ‘standard’ multimode fibers typically only have a reach of approximately 550 meters.

Additionally, it has the added bonus of being compatible to other transceiver models, which means it performs better than most single mode fibers in the market despite its inherently shorter range.

When is Single fiber Necessary?

The creation of single fiber transceivers came about due to the need for more stability as the fibers go beyond its maximum capacity. You’ll usually have to switch to single mode once the distance reaches well beyond 550 meters and you start to experience a considerable degradation of data quality. Take note though that single mode fibers are actually pricier than its multimode counterparts so if a switch isn’t really necessary, then stick with what you have.

Multimode fibers still have the advantage even in the face of higher speed requirements due to its affordability and reliability. You’ll also have an easier time handling the equipment itself, which may prove a defining trait in your choice of fiber optic transceivers. Despite the benefits of either types, it is still crucial that you determine your industry needs first before you choose either single or multimode.