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Why Multimode?

OFS multimode fibers offer the most economical solutions and widest performance ranges available for all types of networks. These fibers support legacy, low bit-rate systems while providing a same-fiber upgrade to the latest high speed 100, 200, and 400 Gigabit networks. OFS multimode fibers are the best choice for Local Area Networks, Storage Area Networks, Equipment Rooms, Data Centers, and Central Offices.

How Multimode Fiber Works

Multimode fiber continues to evolve, supporting the latest network speeds in enterprise and data center networks. Multimode technology has maintained its ability to provide the most cost-effective short reach links through a combination of fiber and optical component development that takes advantage of technology advances. Fiber bandwidth is a critical component of this equation.

Why OM5 Wideband?

WideBand OM5 Multimode Fiber is a 50 micron (μm) laser-optimized multimode fiber designed to help meet the demanding requirements of today’s 850 nm based networks, as well as next-generation multimode short wavelength division multiplexing (SWDM) applications.  OFS’ LaserWave WideBand OM5 fiber is designed to support light traveling at multiple wavelengths from 850 nm to 953 nm, unlike OM3 and OM4 fibers that are optimized for single wavelength, 850 nm operation. 


Why OFS?

OFS is a leader in the multimode fiber industry, beginning with its roots in AT&T Bell Labs. OFS played a key role in the development of laser-optimized OM3 and OM4 multimode fibers in the late 1990s and early 2000s and were critical in the development and standardization of OM5 wideband multimode fiber. Choosing Between Single-Mode vs Multimode Fibers One of the most important multimode fiber parameters is bandwidth, which defines the information-carrying capacity of the fiber. OFS has led the way in developing and standardizing new and innovative ways to maximize and characterize fiber bandwidth for reliable system performance.

LaserWave® OM3, OM4 and OM5 Multimode Fibers for Today's and Tomorrow's High-Speed, Short-Reach Networks

Compared to single-mode, multimode fiber continues to be the more cost-effective and lowest power consumption fiber for short-reach applications (< 500 meters) due to generally cheaper and less power-hungry 850 nm VCSEL-based optics.  The OFS LaserWave family of OM3, OM4 and OM5 multimode fibers support application speeds ranging from 10 Gb/s all the way to 400 Gb/s and beyond.  LaserWave WideBand OM5 fiber offers extended reach for multi-wavelength WDM applications, including current and future BiDi and SWDM4 solutions, making it the most future-proof solution.

OFS Announces Improved Geometry for LaserWave® Multimode Fibers: Read Press Release >>

OFS LaserWave® Multimode Optical Fiber Specification Enhancements

OFS is tightening the glass geometry for LaserWave clad diameter, core/clad concentricity, core non-circularity, and clad non-circularity specifications. Already with the tightest requirements in the industry, these improvements further differentiate LaserWave fiber from the competition. OFS continues to lead the way in demonstrating superior process and quality control through their continuous improvement process.
A 50 μm multimode fiber optimized for low bend loss in 1 Gigabit Ethernet applications
Optimized for outstanding performance in demanding data center and enterprise network applications
LaserWave® WideBand (OM5) Optical Fiber
OM5 multimode fiber optimized for short wavelength division multiplexing (SWDM) applications
OFS LaserWave® Multimode Optical Fiber Specification Enhancements. DOWNLOAD FAQ


Multimode optical fiber continues to be the more cost-effective choice over single-mode optical fiber for shorter-reach applications. While the actual cost of multimode cable is greater than that of single-mode fiber optic cable, it is the optics that dominate the total cost of a network system, dwarfing variation in cable costs.

On average, single-mode transceivers continue to cost from 1.5 to 4 – 5 times more than multimode transceivers, depending on the data rate. Multimode transceivers also consume less power than single-mode transceivers, an important consideration especially when assessing the cost of powering and cooling a data center. Multimode optical fiber is easier to install and terminate in the field, an important consideration for enterprise environments, with their frequent moves, adds and changes.

Browse Our Multimode Fibers

How We Manufacture Our Award-Winning Multimode Fibers

High-Performance Multimode Optical Fibers

500 Micron Coated Optical Fibers

Graded-Index Specially Coated Optical Fibers

Step-Index Optical Fibers

Frequently Asked Questions

What is multimode fiber used for?

Multimode optical fiber systems continue to be the most cost-effective fiber choice for shorter reach premises, campus, enterprise LAN networks, and data center applications, up to 500 - 600-meter range. This is because multimode optics continues to be less expensive than single-mode optics. Beyond the reach of multimode optical fibers, it becomes necessary to use single-mode optical fiber.

What is the difference between single-mode and multimode fiber?

The way in which these two fiber types transmit light eventually led to their separate names. Generally designed for systems of moderate to long-distance (e.g., metro, access, and long-haul networks), single-mode optical fibers have a small core size (< 10 µm) that permits only one mode or ray of light to be transmitted. This tiny core requires precision alignment to inject light from the transceiver into the core, significantly driving up transceiver costs.

Multimode optical fibers have larger cores that guide many modes simultaneously. The larger core makes it much easier to capture light from a transceiver, allowing source costs to be controlled. Similarly, multimode connectors cost less than single-mode connectors as a result of the more stringent alignment requirements of single-mode optical fiber.

What is the maximum distance for multimode fiber?

Reach of multimode fiber is dependent on the data rate and transceivers used.  Industry standards define reaches at given data rates with given transceivers.  For example:

  • 2 kms at 100 Mb/s (100BASE-FX)
  • 1 km at 1 Gb/s (1000BASE-SX)
  • 400 – 600 m at 10 Gb/s (10GBASE-S)
  • 70 – 150 m at data rates ranging from 40 to 400 Gb/s.

Transceiver manufacturers offer extended reach transceivers to achieve even longer lengths, avoiding the need to use more expensive single-mode optics.  In general, multimode optical fiber continues to be the most cost-effective choice for short reach applications. 

What is OM3, OM4, and OM5 multimode fiber?

50 µm laser-optimized multimode (OM3, OM4, and OM5) optical fibers offer significant bandwidth and reach advantages for short-reach applications while preserving the low system cost advantages of multimode optical fiber.

Today, 62.5 µm OM1 multimode optical fiber is virtually obsolete and is relegated for use with extensions or repairs of legacy, low bandwidth systems. 62.5 µm OM1 fiber supports only 33 meters at 10G, and is not even recognized as an option for faster speeds.

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