Multimode fiber has a larger-diameter core and supports multiple pathways, or modes, of light. Several pathways of light are transmitted simultaneously through the fiber, bouncing off the edge of the core. Multimode fiber is best suited for shorter-distance applications.

Singlemode fiber permits only one pathway to travel through the core. This allows data to travel greater distances than over multimode, up to 50 times more. Singlemode offers the best solution in situations where low signal loss and high data rates are required, such as long-haul network applications, those spread out over campuses and greater distances.