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  • OFC Focuses on FTTX, but Attendance Is Down

Photonics Spectra
Apr 2005
Breck Hitz

If there was a theme to this year's Optical Fiber Conference (OFC), held in conjunction with the National Fiber Optic Engineers Conference (NFOEC) from March 6 to 11 at the Anaheim Convention Center in California, it would be the widespread implementation of fiber to the X (FTTX).

OFC Focuses on FTTX, but Attendance Is Down
Attendance at OFC during the past several years shows the effect of the telecom "bubble" from 2000 to 2002. Although the conference was combined with NFOEC for the first time this year, there were fewer attendees than at OFC for the past two years.

FTTX describes the direct delivery of telecommunications services to the consumer's home, premises, office, etc., via optical fiber. Japan leads the world in its implementation, a direct result of consumer demand, according to Hiromichi Shinohara, director of NTT Access Network Service System Laboratories in Japan. Europe, on the other hand, lags behind the rest of the industrialized world. Michael DiMauro, executive director of the FTTH Council board of directors, said that this is attributable to a number of causes, including a lack of competition among telecommunications and cable companies, and differing regulations from one European country to the next.

Fiber to the premises

In the US, Verizon is undertaking a major rollout of fiber to the premises (FTTP), according to Brian Whitton, executive director of access technologies. The company's motivation is threefold: revenue enhancement, efficiency and competitive positioning. He noted that "plain old telephone service" revenue is declining sharply, so the company is ramping up its data and wireless services to replace the lost income.

The enhanced efficiency of FTTP, Whitton said, results from a built-in intelligence that does not exist in traditional copper connections. Remote provisioning, for example, allows a customer's connection to be altered without a technician's visit. Once a fiber connection is made to a house, it can be remotely programmed to deliver any combination of voice, data and video services.

Although the exhibition was slightly larger this year than last, growing from 635 exhibiting companies in 2004 to 650 this year, the attendance of 13,111 for the combined OFC/NFOEC represented a decline from the approximately 15,000 for the stand-alone OFC in 2003 and 2004. Colleen Morrison of the Optical Society of America said the decline is the result of the many mergers within the industry and of tighter travel budgets at companies.

optical fiber
A thin filament of drawn or extruded glass or plastic having a central core and a cladding of lower index material to promote total internal reflection (TIR). It may be used singly to transmit pulsed optical signals (communications fiber) or in bundles to transmit light or images.  
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