Report: Optical transceiver sales for wireless infrastructure to exceed $500M in 2014

Deployments of wireless broadband access systems around the world are making an early and direct impact on the optical components and module market, reports the market researcher LightCounting.

Deployments of wireless broadband access systems around the world are making an early and direct impact on the optical components and module market, reports the market researcher LightCounting.

According to the firm, sales of 3 Gbps and 6 Gbps optical transceivers connecting base-stations with antennas have been growing very rapidly since 2011, but their overall sales were relatively modest. However, LightCounting’s January 2014 market forecast report projected 75% growth in this market during 2014, with total sales reaching close to $500 million. Now, the latest data collected by LightCounting suggests that this figure was an underestimate, and that this market will easily surpass the $500 million mark in 2014.

Final data on Q4 2013 transceiver shipments came in slightly higher than expected, reports the researcher, but it is the guidance for the first half of 2014 offered by several suppliers that is well ahead of earlier expectations. In addition to increasing sales of 3G and 6G transceivers, shipments of 10 Gbps modules for wireless applications ramped quickly in late 2013 and will lead the market’s growth in 2014.

Aggressive 3G/4G network deployments by China Mobile are clearly part of this story, but it is more than just one carrier impacting the market, notes LightCounting. The firm says there are reports of demand for “wireless optics” in Brazil, India, Korea and several other countries in Asia and Latin America. The latest earnings report from Ericsson also indicates that business in Asia and Latin America is growing while overall global networking equipment sales by Ericsson declined by 13% in Q1 2014, compared to the same quarter of 2013.

"Connecting antenna towers with optics is a great long-term investment, but the main problem for operators, particularly in developed countries, is dealing with 'right of way' issues for fiber installations," LightCounting said in a statement. "Mobile operators in the U.S. rely heavily on microwave connectivity for antenna towers and probably look with envy on China Mobile’s massive deployments of optics. There is no question that fiber optics can deliver much higher bandwidth than microwave connections and 10G is just the beginning of the 'wireless optics' story."

The longer term impact of wireless broadband on optical networking is the overall growth in traffic. The latest financial report from China Mobile offers an encouraging data point: Wireless data traffic increased by 48.1% in the first quarter of 2014 compared to the same period of last year, of which mobile data traffic increased by 83.8% compared to the same period of last year.

LightCounting says its latest Market Update Report combines analysis of the publicly reported revenue of equipment vendors with confidential sales data on optical components and modules, collected by LightCounting, offering a unique insight into market dynamics. A quarterly sales database, offered with the report, includes sales data on more than 100 product categories covering the period from Q1 2012 to Q4 2013 for SONET/SDH, Ethernet, Fibre Channel, CWDM, DWDM, FTTx and wireless infrastructure transceivers, as well as high speed optical interconnects, including active optical cables and embedded optical modules.

The report also offers market guidance for the first half of 2014 and discusses potential changes to LightCounting’s market forecast published in January 2014. Data for the report was provided by more than 25 leading module and component vendors. Learn more.

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