The Next Generation of Multimode Fiber

PaulKolesar Paul Kolesar September 23, 2014

We NextGenFiber, multimodehave been working with our partners on exciting new technological advancements in support of optimizing high-speed transmission over multimode fiber (MMF). These advancements include a next generation MMF that we refer to as wide band multimode fiber (WBMMF). To understand the benefits of WBMMF, let’s start by reviewing today’s commonly used transmission technique for very high data rates over MMF.

As data rates have advanced above 28Gbps, a technique called multiplexing has been successfully standardized and deployed to deliver higher rates for applications such as 40GE and 100GE, with 400GE and 128GFC currently in standardization. All of these applications employ a type of multiplexing on MMF that involves dividing the data into lower speed constituents and conveying each over its own individual fiber within a multi-fiber cabling infrastructure, commonly referred to as parallel transmission.

Recent developments will add an additional multiplexing dimension enabling multiplication of MMF’s capacity through the use of multiple wavelengths. Through wavelength division multiplexing each additional wavelength expands the capacity of the fiber allowing either a reduction in the number of fibers or an increase in total channel capacity.

Existing OM3 and OM4 multimode fibers have a rather limited ability to support high speed transmission using wavelengths different than the 850nm wavelength for which they are optimized; however, a new generation of multimode fiber greatly expands that ability while retaining support for legacy 850nm applications. WBMMF can support four or more wavelengths to significantly improve capacity. For example, this new type of fiber could enable transmission of 100Gbps over a single pair of fibers rather than the four or 10 pairs used today.

CommScope is working diligently with leading ecosystem partners in the fiber, transceiver, server/switch and high performance computing industries to foster coordinated development of both new fiber technology and new transceiver technology. When combined, these two advancements will offer unprecedented capacity while maintaining the value that multimode transmission has always offered for short-reach communications channels.

CommScope and our partners will bring proposals into standards committees starting with the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) TR-42 meeting next month. We look forward to keeping you informed on the progress of these proposals.

If you have any questions regarding the benefits of WBMMF, leave a comment below and I will be sure to get back to you.

About the Author


Paul Kolesar

Paul Kolesar is an Engineering Fellow in CommScope’s Connectivity Solutions division. He chairs the TIA TR-42.11 optical systems subcommittee and actively contributes to the development of industry standards for structured cabling, fiber optics and Ethernet. He holds patents on high-speed multimode transmission, optical patch-panel design and array connectivity supporting parallel transmission.  Prior to CommScope, as a distinguished member of technical staff at Bell Laboratories, he developed PBX circuit packs, designed fiber optic multiplexers and led systems engineering for optical fiber structured cabling systems.

Kolesar conceptualized and drove the standardization of laser-optimized multimode fibers (OM3 and OM4), for which he received the IEC 1906 Award in 2011.  These fibers, referenced within Ethernet and Fiber Channel standards, constitute the great majority of optical media installed in data centers today.  He also drove the standardization of wideband multimode fiber (OM5), which optimizes the capabilities of short-wavelength division multiplexing.