Fibre growth

The world market for fibre optic components is currently estimated to be approximately US$20 billion, while the market for optical communications systems is close to US$60 billion.

  • E-Mail
By  Angela Sutherland Published  January 23, 2006

|~||~||~|The world market for fibre optic components is currently estimated to be approximately US$20 billion, while the market for optical communications systems is close to US$60 billion.Both these markets are forecast to grow at 25% a year over the next five years, driven by the strong increase in data traffic arising from internet and the telecommunications sector. In its simplest form, a fibre is a thin glass strand designed for light transmission. A single hair-thin fibre is capable of transmitting trillions obits per second. In addition to their huge transmission capacity, optical fibres offer many advantages over electricity and copper wire. Light pulses are not affected by random radiation in the environment, and their error rate is significantly lower. Fibres allow longer distances to be spanned before the signal has to be regenerated by expensive repeaters. Fibres are more secure because taps in the line can be detected. There are two types of fibre optic systems. These include a single-mode (SM) and a multi-mode (MM). The most common type of fibre used in enterprise installations is the multi-mode due to its low cost. The difference between the two types is primarily related to the quality of the cable. A MM cable has a diameter of 50um, while a SM fibre has a much smaller diameter of 10um. Vendors are leveraging recent improvements in fibre connection speeds in Fibre Channel Storage Area Networking. Recent advances have seen the development of fibre channel arrays increasing in speed almost every three years. This has already seen advances in speeds ranging from 4Gigabits to 16Gigabits. Today, within a campus or a multi-story environment, it is possible to connect distributed server farms to the same high-speed disk subsystem using common fibre channel architectures. Furthermore, fibre is used to provide advanced security solutions for government organisations. Due to its immunity from outside interference, fibre optic security systems provide intrusion detection using the fibre optic cabling as a sensor. On the local front, the three national telecoms operators of the UAE, Iraq and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) have come together to begin the laying of a submarine cable connecting the three nations. Etisalat, Iraqi Telecommunications & Post Company (ITPC) and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) have signed a construction and maintenance agreement that will see the installation of FOG2, the second generation of the Fibre Optic Gulf (FOG) cables. The FOG2 terabit capacity system, initially equipped with 80 Gigabits per second (Gbps) capacity over two fibre-pairs, is the first ever fibre optic submarine cable to land in Iraq. It will initially connect Fujeirah in the UAE, the eastern coast of KSA and Um-Qasr in the Al Basra province of Iraq, and stretches approximately 1500 km. Extensions to potential new participants in the project across the Gulf could extend the total length to 2200 km. Mohammad Omran, the chairman and CEO of Etisalat, is positive about the benefits FOG2 will bring to Iraq. “This submarine cable provides for high-capacity international telecommunications options using fibre optics, enabling Iraq to be connected internationally efficiently and effectively.” Etisalat and STC have also united over SEA-ME-WE 4, another submarine cable connecting France to Singapore via the Middle East, which was inaugurated in December 2005. The main reason as to why fibre is used in the enterprise space is due to its wide range of coverage. A fibre connection can provide a link up to 10km while a copper connection is limited to 90 metres. Today, fibre is used extensively in both campus deployments and buildings for connectivity to users across multiple floors and disparately connected buildings. Privately owned and operated fibre networks account for nearly 80% of all fibre networks worldwide. Because fibre transmits light, it is immune from electrical interference, including lightening, and electromagnetic interference. This makes it the obvious choice when providing connection in extreme environments such as manufacturing plants and refineries. In many areas where copper cabling can deteriorate due to corrosion, fibre can provide a robust alternative especially in coastal regions. Optical fibre is a non-metallic conductor, which means it will not pick up or emit electromagnetic (EMI) or radio frequency (RFI) interference. Crosstalk is also eliminated and there are electrical grounding issues with optical fibre. In addition, there are no ground loops. Vendors say these features make fibre a logical option in explosive environments such as mining, petrochemical operations and refineries. Dominic Morris, sales director of Systimax Solutions, Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan, says fibre will always be the mainstay of a network’s back-end due to its distance and bandwidth capabilities. “Furthermore, as we see increased data flow within a network, fibre will remain the obvious solution for backbone and campus connectivity. I do not see this scenario changing, rather the characteristics and capabilities of the transmission modules will change around the fixed passive infrastructure,” Morris adds. He says fibre is a mainstay of a network’s backbone because of its capacity and speed. Copper is used on fibre backbones for all internet protocol (IP)-based traffic including voice, video, data, security and BMS systems. “However, we will now see an increased uptake of 10G capablcopper solutions penetrating the horizontal component of an enterprise and this will increase pressure on the fibre backbone. Also, with the introduction of 10G capable copper and the subsequent introduction of 10G copper gigabit interface converters (GBICS) may see fibre in the data centre come under evaluation in the near future.” Another advantage of using fibre optic is that it provides a secure environment. Optical fibres are difficult to tap information from undetected, which is an advantage for banks and security installations. They are immune to electromagnetic interference. They can be routed safely through explosive or flammable atmospheres, for example, in the petrochemical industries or munitions sites, without any risk of ignition. “The use of fibre gives enterprises a medium that is secure from external influence, both tapping or electrical interference. Certainly the single mode fibre optic gives a migration path for future technologies and with a zero water peak fibre optic like TeraSpeed, corporations can open the E band to utilise dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) technologies,” Morris explains. Furthermore, optical fibre has enormous capacity to carry information. It can be used for anything from entertainment and distance education to the transmission of highly detailed images for remote medical diagnosis. Satellites also offer a tremendous amount of bandwidth. The need for broadband access has made satellite and fibre the two high bandwidth transmission media of choice in today’s telecommunications services. A fibre optic connection is faster than wireless by many orders of magnitude. One of Africa’s fibre optic projects is the building of a submarine cable wrapping around Africa from Europe to the Far East. This US$600 million project is Africa’s most innovative undersea fibre optic cabling project. It is anticipated the new system will save the continent in excess of over US $300 million per year, and the link will enable African countries direct access to each other as well as enhance global connection. Telecommunications applications are widespread, ranging from global networks to local telephone exchanges to desktop computers. Companies such as AT&T, MCI, and U.S. Sprint use fibre to carry plain old telephone service (POTS) across their nationwide networks. It is also used extensively for transmission of data signals. Firms such as IBM, Rockwell, Honeywell, banks, universities, Wall Street firms, and more own private networks. These firms have a need for secure, reliable systems to transfer computer and monetary information between buildings to the desktop terminal or computer, and around the world. The security inherent in optical fibre systems is a major benefit. ||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code