OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4, OM5 fibers – What’s the difference?

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3 different fiber cables in orange, blue, and green

Data centers and LAN networks often require multimode fiber (instead of single mode fiber) to achieve speed and distance requirements. Do you know the difference between OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4 and OM5 multimode fiber? It’s all about technology related to speed, bandwidth and distance. OM1 is older and slower (hello, 1970) while OM5 is the latest with higher speed and capacity. Keep reading to discover exactly which multimode cable is best for your network application.

Learn the difference between single mode and multi-mode fiber

Browse OM1, OM2, OM3, OM4 and OM5 multimode fiber cables

OM1/ OM2

OM1 and OM2 are the two early forms of multimode cable that were offered. Both share an orange jacket color in accordance to industry standard. They both support a data rate of 1GB at 850nm. They’re also both used generally for short-distance transmissions such as short-haul networks, Local Area Networks (LANs) and private networks. OM1 has a core size of 62.5 um and is capable of distances up to 300 meters while OM2 has a core size of 50um and can travel up to 600 meters. Both OM1 and Om2 utilizes an LED light source for transmission, however OM1 is commonly used for 100Mbps applications which OM2 is generally used for 1000Mbps applications.

OM3 / OM4

OM3 and OM4 share many features including an aqua-colored jacket, a core size of 50um, and a data rate of 10GB at 850nm. Unlike their predecessors both OM3 and OM4 utilizes lasers as a light source to support 10G, 40G, and 100G Ethernet. OM3 is capable of covering distances up to 300 meters. OM3 uses fewer modes of light thus enabling increased speeds, it is able to run 40GB or 100Gb up to 100 meters utilizing an MPO connector. OM3 is generally used in larger private networks. OM4 can cover distances up to 550 meters. OM4 can run 100Gb up to 150 meters using an MPO connector. It is commonly used in high-speed networks, data centers, financial centers, and corporate campuses.

OM5

OM5 is the newest type of multimode fiber cable and specifies a range of wavelengths between 850nm and 953nm. OM5 has a core size of 50um and comes in a lime green jacket. It was created in response to SWDM (short wavelength division multiplexing) technology which is now being used to transmit 40Gb and 100GB, SWDM allows OM5 to transmit multiple signals on a single fiber. By using a single fiber to transmit multiple signals OM5 is able to save fiber, especially when working with a 200G or 400G Ethernet network. OM5 is capable of carrying transmissions up to 150 meters.

Which multimode fiber should you choose?

OM1 is your best choice for legacy ethernet networks and equipment as required. 

OM2 has a smaller core than OM1, and travels up to twice the OM1 distance. It’s typically used for LANs, private networks and short distance transmissions i.e., short haul networks. 

OM3 and OM4 are faster and use lasers instead LEDs as a light source. OM3 has less light modes resulting in increased speed. OM4 is better for distance-based applications. Both are suited for high-speed networks, data centers, financial centers and corporate campuses.

For older OM1 and OM2 networks, consider substituting OM3 and OM4 whenever possible to future proof, and improve speed and data rates (10G, 40G and 100G) at a lower cost than OM5

OM5 is the perfect multimode cable for super high-speed Ethernet networks (200G and 400G) and supports SWDM  (shortwave wavelength division multiplexing) applications. Bonus: OM5 cabling supports and is compatible with legacy cabling applications.

Also, read Aqua or slate: what’s your flavor? The true meaning of fiber color codes

Contact Vitex product experts to help you choose the right fiber optic cable for your applications. With 20 years in the fiber optics industry and based out of New Jersey, you can count on us for all your fiber optic needs.

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