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Fiber Optic Cable Basics

Fiber Optic Cable Basics

Posted by NavePoint on Mar 5th 2021

The fact that light travels faster than electricity make fiber optic cables the go-to when you need to overcome the distance and bandwidth limitations of copper ethernet cables. Fiber optic cables are made up of a glass core, with about the same thickness as a single piece of human hair, which acts as a pathway for pulses of light. Surrounding this glass core is a layer of glass cladding, which helps to reflect the light inward and keep signal loss to a minimum.

There are several types of fiber cables, so let’s run through some of the differentiating factors to help identify where you can find each fiber type.

Single Mode

These cables have the smallest core size, clocking in at 9/125 micrometers, and are identified with a yellow jacket. The micrometer rating of any fiber cable references the diameter of the glass core in relation to the diameter of the glass cladding. Single mode fiber, as its name hints, can only carry one pathway of light through its core. In this instance, the light source is an actual laser.

The high bandwidth supported by single mode fiber make it ideal for long distance installs for internet service providers when running lines between cities or across states.


With a larger glass core, these multimode cables allow for multiple waves of light to reflect, giving an increased signal speed. Multimode fiber optic cables can have varying core sizes and are identified primarily by their OM rating and the color of the cable jacket.

OM1 cables are identified by their orange jacket and have a core size of 62.5/125. These cables are rated for 1 GB transfer speeds with a maximum distance of 275 meters, or 10G transfer speeds at 33 meters.

Regarding fibre channel protocols (FC) OM1 cables transfer 1GFC up to 300 meters.

OM2 rated cables are also orange in color, but with a core size of 50/125 micrometers they can transfer 1 GB at 550 meters, or 10 GB at 82 meters.

OM2 does not currently have recognized GFC ratings.

OM3 sport an aqua colored jacket and measure at 50/125 micrometers. This cable rating transfers 10G at 400 meters, 40G at 100 meters, and 100G at 70 meters.

OM3 are rated at 4GFC up to 380 meters, 8GFC up to 150 meters, 16GFC up to 100 meters, and 32GFC/128GFC up to 70 meters.

OM4 are denoted for their violet jacket and can take 10G up to 400 meters, 40G up to 150 meters, and even 100G up to 100 meters distance.

These OM4 ratings cross to 4GFC at 400 meters, 8GFC at 190 meters, 16GFC at 125 meters, and 32GFC/128GFC up to 100 meters.

You’ll find multimode fiber serving as patch cables inside small to medium sized environments where there is the need to support high data usage.

Fiber Optic Cables at NavePoint

If you need help identifying which fiber type to use in your next install, contact the NavePoint sales team and we will help you find the best option for you to stay connected at light speeds. 

NavePoint Fiber Optic Cables


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