SW-4071A majority of networks in America are wired using copper network cable, often using Cat5e or Cat6. With the development and growing availability of fiber optics, many people are starting to convert to this newer, slimmer, faster, and less expensive medium.

Optical fiber cable is made of thin reflective tubing that sends light particles that can contain data from one end to the other. The tubing has a mirror-like interior which literally bumps the particle around the microscopic tube until it arrives at its destination.

Because of a resin buffer layer, the light typically does not escape the fiber cable or cause “cross-talk” between individual strands. Also, you don't have to worry about interference or heavy shielding like you would with Cat5 copper cable, so the cables end up being a lot less bulky and lighter.

Different Connectors for Different Uses

Some of the more common connectors on fiber cable include LC, , ST, , SC, , MTRJ, , and Toslink (used in audio applications). Don't let all of these connectors of different shapes and sizes fool you. Fiber is fiber, but different devices choose to use different connector types.

Multi-Mode Fiber Optic Cable vs. Single Mode Fiber Optic Cables

SW-4523-16Multi-Mode is mostly used for shorter distance applications, such as wiring the networking backbone of a building. It has transmission speeds ranging from 10 Megbits to approaching 10 gigabits depending on the equipment that is transmitting the data, and generally supports transmission distances up to 550 meters. Generally speaking, the equipment used for multi-mode purposes is far less expensive than for single-mode.

Single-mode optical fiber sends only a single ray of light, but it can non-intuitively travel father and deliver higher bandwidth. The reason for this is that the tighter "tube" is actually better at retaining the fidelity of each individual light pulse. Although equipment for transmitting single mode signals is generally more expensive, buying single-mode fiber in bulk is generally less expensive. Single mode cable can transmit a solid 10 gigabit per second stream to locations 60 kilometers away.


Generally, multi-mode cable is ideal for short distance networking situations, like wiring a building or a campus. In order to use fiber, you'll need a media converter. Media Converters don't only help you integrate fiber into your network, it can also help you extend your A/V or other digital signals with distance limitations.