Follow us on LinkedIn As a transport medium for communication in the modern communication hungry world, fiber optics is a critical and omnipresent technology vital to intelligent human existence and comfort. The massive data explosion triggered by bandwidth heavy multimedia content, such as, video, voice, multimedia, has and will continue to throw the focus on data transfer rate capability of communication networks. The continuously growing number of users sharing a network, use of advanced applications, faster desktop PCs, and faster network servers, all of which contribute to traffic congestion, are creating a dire need for networks to support gigabit transmission speeds. This insatiable need for faster and faster transmission speeds is forecast to continue gathering momentum as businesses adopt bleeding edge networking technologies, such as, data warehousing, cloud computing, server virtualization, all of which have immense resource demands i.e. higher storage needs, and bandwidth-hogging applications.
As the new age of high speed data access continues to come through, its opportunities galore for fiber optic components. The growing magnitude of electronic communication can be put into perspective by the fact that Internet data traffic is increasing exponentially at a rate faster than the rate of complexity of ICs under the Moore’s Law. Against this backdrop, the ongoing transition to high speed fiber optic networks, like 40 and 100 Gbps networks, is likely to continue well into the future spawning opportunities for fiber optic components. For instance, upgradations to higher speed networks will generate demand for array type MPO connectors. While 10G and 40G implementations have been underway over the last couple of years and the technology has achieved reasonable levels of market penetration, 100G technology is still in the embryonic incubation phase. Major equipment vendors have successfully conducted field trials for 100GbE technology over the last few years. Initial deployments of 100G are expected to begin in the year 2012 when new equipments are scheduled to be launched. However, real deployments are expected to occur once 100G reaches its third generation level by 2014. With the ink barely dry on the newest 40GbE and 100GbE technology standard, potential evolution of 400GbE and 1TerabitE, the next rate of Ethernet speed, is already creating a flutter.
Investments in Fiber-to-the-Home/Building (FTTH/B) will continue to remain crucial to growth in the market. Liberalization of regulatory regimes in several countries and support from government for deployment of FTTH/B bodes well for the market. Globally, the number of fiber-connected homes is expected to increase at robust double-digit rates, driven by significant FTTH deployments by leading operators in North America, Asia Pacific and the EMEA. The use of broadband connections to enable teleworking, telecommuting from home, home security, and home automation services is driving home developers to deploy fiber networks. The emergence of FTTH as the only solution to fulfill the current and future data demands of a wired home network is poised to indirectly benefit the market for fiber optic components. FTTB architecture is mostly deployed in regions such as South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan that have high population concentrations in urban areas dominated by apartment building. Research also indicates that rather than population density, it is the income level that has a more appropriate statistical correlation to the type of optical access deployment.
Deployment of fiber optics in the avionics sector is also poised to bring in its fair share of opportunities in applications, such as, remote communications, sensing, avionic platforms and ground-based communications. In this regard, harsh environment fiber optic components capable of withstanding extreme conditions of temperature ranging between 40? to 75?C, shock and vibration, high electromagnetic or radio-frequency disturbances, corrosive and/or solvent environment, external pressure extremes, atomic and other radiation and rough handling during installation, are poised to gain in the upcoming years.
The rise in data storage networks and technologies is driving the use of fiber optic components used in these networks such as fibre Channels. Fibre channels enable safe and reliable transfer of huge volume of data over long distances. The recent rise of applications such as disaster recovery, data warehousing, remote backups and medical imaging are driving the demand for advanced data storage networks such as Network Attached Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Networks (SANs). The trend in turn is driving the demand for fiber optic components required for improving data storage network backbones.
The ongoing European debt crisis is forecast to create a rich mixture of opportunities and challenges, the intensity of which depends upon the future playout of the debt crisis drama. While nothing remains certain and the potential outcomes of the crisis remain numerous, it remains reasonable to surmise that debt laden governments and their austerity measures to curtail towering national debts can likely result in challenges such as, high cost of capital & financing as a result of lower credit ratings, increased pressure to contain capital and operating expenditures, and price degradation for telecommunication services as consumers finally come under the financial yoke. With widening deficits comes higher taxes and as companies increasingly fall to sharpened tax swords of the financial ministry, top line corporate growth will become increasingly challenging, especially against a backdrop of intensifying price competition in a marketplace.
Interestingly, the scenario creates a need for investments in infrastructure developments, given the commercial pressure for continuous innovation. And in this regard, telecom companies are forecast to continue to pushout the scheduled deployments of new network technologies like 4G and 40GbE and 100GbE Ethernet. A complete halt in telecom infrastructure investment in the region is not seen as likely given the detrimental effect of such a strategy on overall economic growth. This is primarily because the level of economic activity is directly proportional to the development of an economys telecommunication infrastructure. Smaller, short-termed infrastructure projects with faster ROIs are therefore expected to be the first to see the light of day. Also demand for new spectrum and mobile data capacity will continue to increase, requiring companies to invest to keep pace with changing marketplace demand. However, investments in deployment of fourthgeneration mobile (4G/LTE) in Europe are expected to be relatively slower as compared to Asia-Pacific and North America.
Currently however, there exists little indication of the debt crisis paralyzing European telecoms projected capex expenditures, and spending on telecommunications equipment continues to hold up well. The scenario is forecast to continue for as long as companies are able to access capital at reasonable costs. The telecommunications industry in Europe has until now shown no signs of weakening as is indicated by the still healthy financial performance and strong liquidity of EUs largest telecom operators – France T?l?com, Telef?nica, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone among others. Market fundamentals continue to remain intact, network upgradations plans have witnessed no major disruptions till date, and pockets of strong growth exist in market segments such as, broadband internet, mobile broadband, online pay TV, smartphones, and healthy demand for data-rich services, LTE and WiMAX technologies. With baseline market sentiments revolving around guarded optimism, demand for fiber optic components is forecast to hold up in the year 2012.