OM3 vs. OM4 Multi-mode Fiber Cables

With each passing year, the demands for higher data rates and greater bandwidth in data centers grow. An increasing number of sophisticated fiber optical products have been introduced into the telecommunication market, including fiber patch cables (single-mode fibers (SMFs) and multi-mode fibers (MMFs)), with MMFs being preferred by users. MMFs have four types, OM1, OM2, OM3 and OM4. This article mainly details the differences between OM3 and OM4, helping you clear off the confusion of these two types.

OM3 and OM4 Compatibility

The first thing to note is that OM4 is completely backwards compatible with existing OM3 systems. The connectors and termination of OM3 and OM4 are same. Besides, both OM3 and OM4 are Laser Optimised Multi-mode Fiber (LOMMF) share the same fiber core size of 50/125. So, what are the differences between them?

OM3 vs. OM4

OM4 differs from OM3 mainly in their attenuation and dispersion provided. Let’s first see the following table which shows the attenuation and dispersion of OM3 and OM4.

Type Maximum Attenuation at 850nm Minimum Fiber Bandwidth at 850nm
OM1 3.5 dB/Km 2700 megahertz*Km
OM2 3.0 dB/Km 4700 megahertz*Km
  • Attenuation Analysis

OM4 cable has lower attenuation than OM3. Attenuation refers to the reduction in power of the light signal as it is transmitted (dB). It’s caused by losses in light through the passive components, such as cables, and connectors, relatively simple to explain. The maximum attenuation at 850nm permitted by OM3 is less than 3.5 dB/Km, while the OM4 is less than 3.0 dB/Km. OM4 causes fewer losses.

  • Dispersion Analysis

Dispersion is the spreading of the signal in time due to the differing paths the light can take down the fiber. Two types of dispersion are available: chromatic and modal. Chromatic is the spreading of the signal in time resulting from the different speeds of light rays, while modal is the spreading of the signal in time resulting from the different propagation modes in the fiber. Here the focus is put on the modal dispersion. The modal dispersion determines the modal bandwidth that the fiber can operate, and this is what the difference between OM3 and OM4 lies in. The minimum fiber bandwidth at 850nm allowed by OM3 is 2700 megahertz*Km, by OM4 is 4700 megahertz*Km, meaning that OM4 can operate at higher bandwidth.

  • Other Considerations Between OM3 and OM4

OM4 is more network reliable than OM3, providing great design flexibility. What’s more, OM4 is able to reach an additional 60% links in the core-to-distribution and in the access-to-distribution channels compared to OM3 in 40G/100G Ethernet applications. In 40G Ethernet transmission using 40G QSFP, OM4 enables 150m length reach. Like Arista QSFP-40G-SR4, this 40G QSFP, when runs over OM4, enables 150m reach with MTP/MPO connector at a data rate of 40 Gbps. The image below shows what the Arista QSFP-40G-SR4 transceiver looks like.

Arista QSFP-40G-SR4

Use OM3 or OM4 for Your Network?

On the one hand, since OM3 are compatible with OM4, these two types are interchangeable when the transmission distance limitations are accessible. But on the other, the additional bandwidth and lower attenuation of OM4 make it more ideal for MMF cabling infrastructure. Whether use OM3 or OM4 for your network, it depends on the specific situations, like cost, and distance required.


After detailed discussion, you may have gained a better understanding of the OM3 and OM4 differences and you can quickly choose MMF types to meet your higher bandwidth system requirements. Fiberstore OM3 and OM4 provide solutions that allow more effective and bandwidth-providing network installations. Besides fiber patch cables, Fiberstore also offers copper cables for your networks, such as QSFP-H40G-CU5M. This Cisco QSFP-H40G-CU5M product listed on Fiberstore is 100% compatible with the equivalent Cisco direct attach copper cables. For more information about fiber patch cables and copper cables, you can visit Fiberstore for more information.