Window of opportunity is now for fiber-optic cable

Strike while the wire is hot may be a twist on the old adage, but for the cabling industry-particularly vendors keying in on multimedia trends-there may be no better battle cry

Strike while the wire is hot may be a twist on the old adage, but for the cabling industry-particularly vendors keying in on multimedia trends-there may be no better battle cry. According to a newly released study, the time is now, and the "wire" is fiber-optic cable.

"2000 MultiMedia Telecommunications Market Review and Forecast," recently published by the Multimedia Telecommunications Association (MMTA) and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA-Arlington, VA), predicts double-digit growth for the telecommunications equipment and software markets for 2000, ignited primarily by the insatiable demand for high-speed Internet access. Impacting that growth from just about every angle is fiber-optic cable. "As the demand for Internet access and the associated demand for bandwidth escalate, fiber-optic cabling is being deployed at an increasing rate...since much of the existing cabling cannot keep pace," the report says.

In what amounts to a flash-fire effect, analysts say the heat of the fiber-optic action will be strongest in the next several months when highly competitive traditional carriers hurry to make their systems bidirectional by "upgrading much of their coaxial-cable infrastructure."

Major telephone company carriers such as AT&T and Sprint, which are hoping to offer video-on-demand and high-speed Internet access, installed 4.2-million km of fiber in 1999-approximately 22% of all fiber installed. That growth, the report says, should continue before peaking in 2001 at an estimated 4.5-million km. Specifically, while sales of fiber-optic cable rose 14.3% in 1999, to $2.4 billion, the report says they'll peak this year at $2.7 billion "before receding somewhat in 2002 and 2003, as new network deployments are completed."

Equipment designed to address these high-speed data-transmission needs set the pace for sales in 1999, and the MMTA/TIA report doesn't see that trend changing in 2000. "Continued demand for high-speed Internet access, voice-over-IP [VoIP], convergence [voice/data], and high-level applications will drive the equipment market, offsetting anticipated declines in wireless infrastructure spending, flat wireless handset spending, and a post-2000 slowdown in spending on voice-communications equipment."

According to the study, leading telecommunications-equipment sales through 2003 will be:

  • VoIP gateways-37.7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
  • Electronic bonding gateways-31.6% CAGR.
  • Asynchronous Transfer Mode-19.4% CAGR.
  • Wavelength-division multiplexers/Synchronous Optical Network, Synchronous Digital Hierarchy, digital crossconnects-16.3% CAGR.
  • Central-office switching equipment-7.8% CAGR.
  • Fiber-optic cable and other outside plant-4.6% CAGR.

MMTA president Mary Bradshaw says the healthy growth projections show that "while business customers want their high-end applications, they don't want to have to be their own integrators. For network service providers and enterprise solutions suppliers alike, the data suggests the market drivers are the same: applications. Solve the end user's business problems and the technology sales will follow."

In fact, the report adds, with the removal of technological barriers to interoperability, "we expect that the next stage of the telecommunications revolution will be driven by applications."

Overall, the report says, the U.S. telecom-equipment industry "continues to run a healthy trade surplus with the rest of the world. Since most countries have put a high priority on upgrading the telecommunications infrastructure as a means to facilitate economic growth, the demand for U.S. telecommunications equipment remains strong."

Wilkofsky Gruen Associates (New York City), a consultancy specializing in telecommunications, communications, and entertainment industries, served as lead analysts for the MMTA/TIA report, which also featured contributions from numerous professionals in the telecom munications and market-research industries.
-Steve Smith

Moves, Adds & Changes

Greg McNulty, former senior manager of business development for network services at Microsoft, has been appointed executive vice president of worldwide sales and marketing at Nx Networks (Herndon, VA, and Westboro, MA). The newly formed company will look to McNulty to develop its solutions for secure voice and data communications.

DH Supply Co. (Atlanta), a provider of procurement services for the electrical and telecommunications industries, has added to its management team as it splits its operations in hopes of providing a higher level of service to customers. Larry Mealor has been named general manager of the newly formed Electrical Div. in Atlanta and Douglasville, GA, while George Heusel has been appointed general manager for the Telecom Div. at a new facility in Suwanee, GA. Joining DH Supply in the newly created marketing-manager position is Garrett Gerst, who will oversee efforts in both divisions. The corporate staff, led by president and chief executive David Hicks Sr., will move to the new Suwanee plant.

Recent organizational changes at Graybar Electric (St. Louis), an international wholesale telecommunications distributor, include the following: Dennis Grousosky has been named vice president of district service organization in Tampa, FL; James Novak, manager of corporate distribution; Peter Johnson, director of quality and service; Peter Roettinger, director of industrial market; James Kaiser and James Moxon, national product specialists; J. Dudley Stainback, branch manager in Richmond, VA.

Michael Bourton has joined TTC (Germantown, MD) as general manager of local-loop test products. Previously, he was managing director of Wavetek Wandel Goltermann's local-loop division in the United Kingdom.

L-3 Communications' Global Network Solutions (GNS) business unit has opened sales and marketing headquarters in Reston, VA, and added regional offices in Dallas and Atlanta. GNS also maintains an international sales office in the United Kingdom, and its engineering and operations remain at the Horsham, PA, facility.

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