Researchers say users will choose horizontal fiber after Cat 6

Two market-research organizations, reporting on cabling markets in different parts of the world, concluded that end-user organizations will choose fiber-to-the-desk when their demands outgrow the capabilities of Category 6 cabling

Two market-research organizations, reporting on cabling markets in different parts of the world, concluded that end-user organizations will choose fiber-to-the-desk when their demands outgrow the capabilities of Category 6 cabling. BSRIA (www.bsria.co.uk), in its report on the Asia Pacific region, and FTM Consulting, in its report on the United States market, both expect users to snub fully-shielded systems in favor of optical-fiber cabling in coming years.

Neither study covers Europe-a region in which some countries embrace shielded technologies and likely will employ Category 7/Class F systems that currently are being specified by the International Organization for Standardization/Inter national Electrotechnical Commission (ISO/IEC).

FTM's study says that by 2006, Category 6 will be the dominant cabling system, accounting for 59.9% of product shipments at that time. FTM says Category 6 systems make up 14% of today's shipments. Category 5 shipments are below their peak, achieved in 1999, but still account for more than half of today's shipments, at 50.3%. FTM predicts that in five years that number will sink to 9.2%. Category 5 "will still be used in aftermarkets for additions and changes to the large installed base of Category 5 cabling systems," says Frank Murawski, president of FTM Consulting.

He characterizes Category 5e as an "interim solution," currently garnering a 35.7% share of the market, and tailing off to 27.1% five years from now.

As for a shielded Category 7, he says, "Early experience using shielded cabling in the U.S. market with the IBM Cabling System proved to be cumbersome and difficult. Maintaining the outside cable shield at ground without introducing any ground loops was one of the more significant problems." Murawski says the U.S. market will adopt a cabling system called Category 7, but that unlike all previous Category-rated cabling systems, it will be optical rather than twisted-pair copper.

"This will mark the long awaited arrival of fiber-to-the-desk," Murawski concludes.

In its Asia-Pacific report, BSRIA says the region "is dominated by unshielded solutions. Rather than switching to proposed Category 7 in the future, which requires individually shielded cable, needs for higher bandwidth are likely to be reached through horizontal fiber solutions. Fiber is set to grow at 17% per annum by volume across the region, although from a very small base."

BSRIA charts the Asia Pacific structured cabling market at US$600 million-13.9% of which is optical-fiber cable and connecting hardware.

The overall cabling market for the region is growing at more than 10% annually by volume. "China, Japan, and India have enormous potential," the company said in announcing the report.

BSRIA adds, "China already controls one-third of the region with a market of US$213 million. India, despite its reputation as a major global IT center, is still very underdeveloped at US$52 million. The potential for China and India must be at least 10 times present levels in the medium term, and the market is growing at 17% annually in each country."

The company's nine-volume study, Asia Pacific Structured Cabling, covers Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan.

-Patrick McLaughlin


INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT

This column covers various industry-related topics. To submit a news item, contact Chief Editor
Patrick McLaughlin
Tel: (603) 891-9222,
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