OPTICAL FIBER MARKET
Keeps Plugging Away
BY DAVID L. SHENKENBERG, FEATURES EDITOR
A2009 by BuddeComm and Chiltern,
more than 40 million people world-ccording to the FttH Fact Book
wide currently subscribe to fiber optic networks including FttH, or fiber to the
home. Although DSL has more market
share of broadband customers around the
world, some experts say that optical fibers
could overtake it within five to 10 years.
The optical fiber market could reach
this level of growth even sooner, but certain obstacles could prevent this. For example, some technologies are extending
the life of DSL, which will make telecoms
more resistant to switching to optical
fibers. At the local level, project managers
need to plan the installation of fiber optic
network infrastructure without disturbing
other underground systems. The populace
may complain about the impact of the
construction on community appearance,
the environment and public safety. People
also might vandalize or steal the equipment.
However, these issues are relatively
minor. The three primary factors affecting
the optical fiber market are cost, regulation and competition.
A discussion of the market cannot begin
without addressing the elephant in the
room: the global recession. However, despite the economic downturn, the optical
fiber market is moving forward.
Some countries help roll out fibers
In Europe, broadband access has been
viewed as a matter of public welfare. This
outlook has helped promote the expansion
of fiber optic networks. Competition between countries also has spurred growth.
In Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the
Netherlands, governments have helped telcos roll out fiber optic networks. In response, France, Italy, Germany, Portugal,
Spain and the UK have been rolling out
fiber networks as well. However, these
countries have favored hybrid fiber-copper
networks due to the cost of optical fibers.
In Australia, a 2007 initiative of the
Labor Party would have helped optical
fiber rollout, but this measure was resisted
by Telstra, which controls the largest market share on the continent.
As one might expect, growth is slower
in poorer continents such as Africa and
South America. However, there are opportunities in relatively wealthy and politically stable countries such as Brazil and
“Asia is the one region in the world
where FttH has started to emerge as a seri-