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Photonics in: Telecommunications

Photonics Spectra
May 2000
The telecommunications industry is in a ceaseless search for groundbreaking technology and management strategies to deliver more bandwidth.

Gaynell Terrell, Senior News Editor/Business

The telecommunications industry is in a frenzy to deliver more bandwidth. The (mostly) all-optical network concept, with a modicum of mechanical and electrical switches, is the future. But before that happens, the industry must learn to integrate what it already has: an alphabet soup of hardware and software, electrical and optical switches, dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) transport solutions, asynchronous transfer mode backbones, SONET rings, and many other devices linking optical fiber and legacy systems.

"A lot of optical network systems have been employed just to increase capacity, a quick, desperate reaction to how much demand was created by the Internet," said Scott Clavenna, principal analyst for Pioneer Consulting LLC of Cambridge, Mass. "Networks need to be deployed and managed in a new way."

The global optical networking market totaled about $3.9 billion in 1999 and is expected to rocket to more than $17 billion by 2004, Pioneer Consulting reported in its 2000 core optical networks forecast. The bulk of this market, at $3.7 billion, was in long-haul network systems in 1999, with $188 million in metropolitan system sales. The markets for long-haul and metro systems are expected to total more than $15 billion and $2 billion, respectively, by 2004.

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