Both multimode and single mode optical fiber transmission systems can provide long distance transmission at moderate to high data rates. Multimode graded index optical fibers are clearly adequate up to about 20 Mb/s at any wavelength between 0.8-1.6 μm. On the other hand, the lower dispersion of single mode fibers is advantageous at data rates above 100 Mb/s. Between 20 Mb/s and a few hundred megabits per second, there are tradeoffs between the choice of multimode and single mode optical fiber transmission. This paper addresses these tradeoffs and the practical limit for transmission between 0.8-1.6 μm. Both attenuation and dispersion limits to transmission distance are reviewed. The limitations due to the small diameter of the single mode fiber are also highlighted.
David L. Baldwin,
"Multimode Versus Single Mode Optical Fiber Transmission Systems for 0.8-1.6μm", Proc. SPIE 0266, Infrared Fibers, (28 July 1981); doi: 10.1117/12.959895; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.959895