Optical-fiber opportunities grow close to home

Predictions in a new report by Chaffee Fiber Optics (www.fibertoday.com), based in Ellicott City, MD, suggest the market for fiber-to-the-cabinet, fiber-to-the-home and fiber-to-the-building or business will more than triple from the years 2001 to 2005

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Predictions in a new report by Chaffee Fiber Optics (www.fibertoday.com), based in Ellicott City, MD, suggest the market for fiber-to-the-cabinet, fiber-to-the-home and fiber-to-the-building or business will more than triple from the years 2001 to 2005, and more than double in the following four-year period to reach $5.9 billion by 2009.

The report, Fiber-to-the-x: 2001-2010-New Paradigm For Success in a Changing Industry, takes a sweeping look at all three markets-dubbed "fiber to the x." The study argues that the impact of the traditional driver of the optical-fiber market-long-haul installations-is fading. Now, more attention is being focused on relieving the last mile bottleneck that hinders full bandwidth to home and office.

C. David Chaffee, principal author for Chaffee Fiber Optics, says his organization conducted the survey by giving a detailed questionnaire to dozens of telecommunications vendors and carriers. And although the report sees a bright future for optical-fiber networks, Chaffee says it doesn't mean copper cable opportunities will disappear.

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"We're saying that there will be a gradual, growing reliance on fiber, and in that sense, it is unstoppable," says Chaffee. "I'm not saying copper is going away. But it (the demand for optical fiber) will overtake copper eventually."

Specifically, the report projects that, by far, the largest portion of the new growth in real dollars will be in the fiber-to-the-building/fiber-in-the-build ing market, which will grow from $512.7 million this year to a predicted $1.853 billion in 2005 and $3.264 billion in 2009.

"The growth potential is just unbelievable," says Chaffee. "If you look at the long-haul market, it will reach $30 to $40 billion in a couple of years. Suddenly, we see a market that is potentially larger than that, which is much more dense."

But Chaffee warns that even though the fiber-to-the-business market has solidified, it won't take off in earnest until 2003, at which time it will move forward from the current economic downturn.

Chaffee predicts the fiber-to-the-cabinet market will grow from $178.6 million in 2001 to $627 million in 2005 and $1.287 billion in 2009. The fiber-to-the-home market, meanwhile, is expected to kick in a few years down the road. The report argues that the largest percentage growth will occur in the home market, accelerating by more than 20-fold in the eight-year period from $23.2 million in 2001 to $547.9 million in 2009.

-Brian Milligan

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