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Wireless May be Savior of Fiber

Photonics.com
Mar 2002
ANAHEIM, Calif., March 21 -- Kevin Kalkoven, founding partner, KPL Ventures, focused on an historical fable of myopia and poor business decisions during his presentation on strategic positioning, "Out of the Darkness: Lighting the Future" during Wednesday's crowded "Telecom Trends -- Analyst and Investor Views" commercial technology program session.

"I've seen markets like this before from my days in the mainframe computer business," Kalkhoven said. "The phrase 'history repeats' may have some bearing on our industry, especially if you pay attention to the parallels one can draw from the '80s PC revolution."

He pointed out that in 1980, 18 large companies sold expensive, complex hand-built mainframe computers to a limited corporate market.

"In 1983, there was a recession and a serious leveling off of revenues that remains virtually unchanged today," he said. "Of those 18 companies, only one is still operating today" -- referring to Dell Computer, which he said survived because it adapted to a changing market and grasped the impact of a major technology shift.

He contrasted that with DEC (Digital Equipment Corp.): "At one point DEC had 140,000 employees, and now they're gone," he said. "DEC could not shift its focus to the end-user, which is who began driving demand for PC technology."

Kalkoven said the industry needs to shift its thinking in the direction of customer demand for digital cameras, wireless devices and the like. He suggested investing more resources in the development of wireless mesh networks, which are driven by fiber at the core, allow transmission speeds from 384 Kb/s to 3 Mb/s and actually grow stronger as the network expands.

"Wireless may actually be the savior of fiber," Kalkhoven said. "I think our industry is making a big mistake by equating the demand for bandwidth with the demand for DWDM. We need to focus on ourselves, really -- and ask the question, "What would I pay more for? Don't be a DEC, be a Dell."



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