How are Transceiver Modules Classified?

Transceiver modules can be classified into various categories based on their performance characteristics and end-use. Characteristics commonly used in fiber optic transceiver classification include: fiber mode, transfer rate, transmission distance, wavelength, and connector type. Transceiver modules with similar characteristics are classified and grouped into packages, or form-factors, which are further discussed in this blog post and illustrated in this infographic.

The following is a brief overview of some of the characteristics used in classifying transceiver modules into different form-factors. A full detailed explanation of how transceiver modules are classified is available on this webpage: Fiber Optic Transceiver Classification

Fiber Mode:

Perhaps the most fundamental classification of fiber optic transceivers is the “mode type” of the fiber with which it is intended to be used. The two basic classifications of fiber mode types are: multimode and singlemode. Multimode fibers, with core diameters typically in the range of 50 to 62.5 microns, have substantially larger core diameters than singlemode fibers, which have core sizes in the 8 to 9 micron range. Dispersion severely limits the transmission distance achievable over multimode fiber as contrasted with singlemode fiber.

Click here  for detailed information on the differences between Multimode and Singlemode fibers.

Transceiver Rate:

Fiber optic transceiver modules are often categorized based on their data transfer rates. There are five popular rate categories used in fiber optic transceiver classification: 100GBase, 40GBase, 10GBase, 1000Base and 100Base. These rates refer to the speed at which a fiber optic transceiver is able to transmit data over Ethernet.

Click here for detailed information on these and other transfer rate hierarchies.

Transmission Distance:

Not all fiber optic transceiver modules can transmit data the same distance. For multimode applications, both transfer rate and the specific type of fiber affect the transmission distance. For singlemode applications, transfer rate is the dominant factor with respect to transmission distance. Multimode applications are generally classified as “Short Reach”, usually with the nomenclature “SR”. Singlemode applications cover a wider range of distances over OS1 class fiber optic cables.

Click here to see detailed charts of the transmission distances achievable with multimode and singlemode transceivers.


Infrared light is used in the transmission of data over fiber optic networks. A wavelength is the measurement of the distance between successive crests in the light wave. Fiber optic transceivers typically transmit data at one of three primary wavelengths: 850nm, 1310nm or 1550nm. Multimode fiber is designed to operate at 850nm and 1300nm wavelengths, while singlemode fiber is optimized for 1310nm and 1550nm wavelengths.

Click here  for detailed information on CWDM and DWDM wavelengths.

Connector Type:

Transceiver modules can be classified into different groups based on their connector types. There are four main types of fiber optic connectors used in conjunction with optical transceivers today: SC, LC, MPO, and ST. These connector types generally follow a color code system to differentiate between connectors compatible with singlemode and multimode fiber.

Click here for detailed information on connector type compatibility and color coding.

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