Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Optical Fiber

Intro

There are some terms and concepts we need to know when talking about optical fiber, I will try to put here the most essential things.

Definitions

  • Multi-mode : less expensive, suitable for short or middle distance (<500m).
  • Single-mode : more expensive, suitable for long distance (up to some kilometers).

Cables

Connectors

There are many different connectors, I list here the main ones you're supposed to see in the industry.

Connector Picture
LC : Lucent Connector, Little Connector or Local Connector.
Note : The standard for new installations. Switches and Fiber Optic Patch sides.
Optical Fiber | LC Connector
SC : Subscriber connector, square connector or standard connector.
Note : Still common on the Fiber Optic Patch sides.
Optical Fiber | SC Connector
ST
Note : Mainly present on older installations.
Optical Fiber | ST Connector

Multi-mode

  • Multimode fiber cable is prefixed with OM or il. There are five types of Multimode : OM1/il1, OM2/il2, OM3/il3, OM4/il4 and OM5/il5.
Standard OM1/il1 OM2/il2 OM3/il3 OM4/il4 OM5/il5
Distance (1 Gbits) 275 m 550 m 550 m 550 m 550 m
Distance (10 Gbits) 33 m 82 m 300 m 400 m 400 m
Distance (40 Gbits / 100 Gbits) Not Supported Not Supported 100 m 150 m 150 m

Single-mode

  • Single-mode fiber cable is prefixed with OS. There are two types of Single-mode : OS1 and OS2.
Standard OS1 OS2
Distance 10 km / 6 Miles 100 km / 62 Miles
Enforcement Indoor Outdoor

SFP / mini-Gbics

SFP for small form-factor pluggable is a compact, hot-pluggable network interface module. (source : https://en.wikipedia.org).

Shebang the gbic
Img. The shebangthedolphins sfp module.

1 Gbit/s SFP module

  • SX : Multi-mode, 850 nm, 550m/1Gbits or 150m/4Gbits.
  • LX : Single-mode, 1 310 nm, up to 10 km.
  • EX : Single-mode, 1 310 nm, up to 40 km.
  • ZX : Single-mode, 1 550 nm, up to 80 km.
  • EZX : Single-mode, 1 550 nm, up to 120 km.

10 Gbit/s SFP+ module

They have the same format as SFP but the speed can reach up to 10 Gbits.

  • SR : Multi-mode, 850 nm, up to 300m/10Gbits.
  • LR : Single-mode, 1 310 nm, up to 10 km.
  • LRM : Single-mode, 1 310 nm, up to 0.22 km.
  • ER : Single-mode, 1 550 nm, up to 40 km.
  • ZR : Single-mode, 1 550 nm, up to 80 km.
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