Difference between OM2 and OM3 Fiber

Optical Multimode 2 (OM2) and Optical Multimode 3 (OM3) are two types of multimode fiber optic cables. The primary differences between them lie in their bandwidth capabilities, distance limitations, and overall performance, particularly when it comes to supporting higher-speed networks.

Here is a detailed comparison, backed up with factual data:

OM2 Fiber

OM2 is a type of multimode fiber with a core diameter of 50 micrometers (µm). The core is the light-carrying part of the fiber where data is transmitted. It is designed for use with LED light sources.

Key performance characteristics of OM2 fiber:

  • Maximum Bandwidth: OM2 fiber has a maximum bandwidth of 500 MHz/km when operating at a wavelength of 850nm. Bandwidth is the maximum rate of data transfer across a given path.
  • Maximum Distance: For Gigabit Ethernet (1GbE), OM2 can support lengths up to 550 meters. However, for 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE), OM2’s reach is significantly reduced to 82 meters.
  • Applications: Given its characteristics, OM2 is best suited for lower-speed networks and short-distance applications, such as within a single building or campus.

OM3 Fiber

OM3 fiber, on the other hand, is specifically designed for laser (VCSEL) light sources. It also has a core diameter of 50µm, but it outperforms OM2 in terms of bandwidth and maximum supported distance.

Key performance characteristics of OM3 fiber:

  • Maximum Bandwidth: OM3 fiber offers a higher bandwidth than OM2, capable of delivering 2000 MHz/km at a wavelength of 850nm.
  • Maximum Distance: OM3 supports 1GbE up to 1000 meters. For 10GbE, OM3 can support distances up to 300 meters, a significant improvement over OM2. OM3 can also support 40Gb and 100Gb Ethernet up to 100 meters.
  • Applications: OM3’s enhanced capabilities make it better suited for high-speed networks, especially those in data centers and storage area networks where longer runs and higher data rates are common.

OM2 vs OM3 Fiber: Now, let’s represent this comparison in a simple chart:

Core Diameter (µm)5050
Light SourceLEDVCSEL (Laser)
Maximum Bandwidth @ 850nm (MHz/km)5002000
Maximum Distance (1GbE)550m1000m
Maximum Distance (10GbE)82m300m
Maximum Distance (40Gb/100GbE)Not Supported100m
Best Suited ApplicationsLower-speed, short-distance networksHigh-speed networks, Data centers, and Storage area networks

This chart provides a clear comparison between OM2 and OM3 fibers. When choosing between the two, you should consider your current network needs, future scalability, and budget. While OM3 offers superior performance, it’s also more costly than OM2. Hence, the decision should balance cost against performance and future-proofing requirements.

What Fiber to Choose?

The choice between OM2 and OM3 fiber cables often depends on the specific requirements of the network, including the necessary data transmission speed, distance, and budget.

In terms of performance, OM3 is undoubtedly superior to OM2. It offers a higher bandwidth and supports greater distances for higher speed networks (such as 10GbE, 40GbE, and 100GbE), making it more suitable for modern, high-speed applications such as data centers.

Therefore, if your network requires high data transmission rates over longer distances, OM3 would be a better choice, especially considering future scalability and upgrades.

OM3 has been more commonly used in new installations because it supports higher data rates which are becoming increasingly standard in many businesses and data centers. It’s also considered more future-proof compared to OM2.

Always consider consulting with a Professional Fiber Cabling Company who can provide advice based on your specific network infrastructure and needs.