Why is Fiber Optic Cable Faster than Cable?

When choosing cable for your communications and networking needs, it is crucial to understand the differences between all the available options.

While copper cable remains an option for some use cases, fiber optic cable tends to be the wisest choice for most buildings, especially where scalability, reliability, and speed are required.

But even once you decide to use fiber cables, there are still some important considerations, namely, whether or not you want to use single mode or multimode fiber optic cables.

To help you decide the best fit for your business or building installation, we have put together this post to explain why fiber optics are faster than cable. From there, we will break down the speed differences between single and multimode fiber optic cables!

Here’s what you need to know:

Why is Fiber Optic Faster Than Cable?

Fiber optic cables transmit data much faster than the traditional copper cables used in telecommunications and network applications.

In this context, ‘speed’ refers to the amount of data that can be transmitted per unit of time. Fiber optic cables have much greater throughput than copper and can maintain it over greater distances.

Fiber is faster because it uses light to transmit a signal rather than electrical pulses.

This light signal is able to travel farther, and faster, in a shorter period of time. On top of this, fiber optic cables experience less attenuation and interference, resulting in a stronger and more consistent signal.


Single Mode and Multimode Fiber Optic Cable Speeds

Single mode and multimode are two fiber optic cable options that can be used in network applications.

There are some key differences between single and multimode fiber optic cables. Single mode, for example, transmits a single light mode and is best used over long distances as the signal can reach up to 40 km. Multimode fiber, on the other hand, can travel distances of up to 400 m without disruption in the signal. This means that multimode is best used for on-premise applications or local area networks (LANs) and single mode can be used for greater distances and larger installs.

Single mode installations tend to be more expensive than multimode. So, when weighing the very real benefits of each fiber optic cable type, you may find yourself limited by your budget.

These cable types also have differences when it comes to speed.

No matter what your budget is, or your specific requirements, there is a speedy fiber optic solution for you. Here’s a quick look at the differences in speed between single mode and multimode cables.

Single Mode Fiber Optic Cable Speed

As the name suggests, single mode fiber optic cable uses a single strand of glass. These cables have a narrow diameter, typically about 8.3 to 10 microns.

Due to this single fiber, there is reduced light refraction as the signal passes through the core, optimizing the signal speed.

Single mode fiber optic cable speed is 100 Mbit/s or Gbit/s and can reach up to 5kms. Typically you will find these cables used for long-distance transmission.


Multimode Fiber Optic Cable Speed

Multimode fiber optic cable uses multiple strands of glass to transmit data. Typically, these cables can range from 50 to 100 microns. This larger core means multiple modes can be sent at the same time, allowing for greater bandwidth.

But, with multiple modes comes greater refraction and attenuation rates, making it more useful for shorter distances. You’ll often find multimode fiber optic cables used within single building networks or buildings on the same campus.

The multimode fiber optic cable speed is 100 Mbit/s for distances up to 2 km, Gbit/s up to 1000m, and 10 Gbit/s up to 550 m.


Because they use light to transmit data, fiber optic cables are much faster than traditional copper cables.

Single mode cables are excellent for long-distance transmissions while multimode cables can be used for shorter distances.

If you need blazing transmission speeds with a consistent data flow, it is worth considering a fiber optic cable solution from the trained professionals at All-Tech Communications. To discuss your specific needs and find the solution that is perfect for your unique installation, contact us today!