Enabling the Future
Karen A. Newman
In the June editorial, I wrote about the US National Academies undertaking an update
of its 1998 study, Harnessing Light: Optical Science and Engineering for the 21st
Century. Now SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, which pushed
for a second study, has launched a blog, “Harnessing Minds,” to provide
the photonics community with an open online forum to offer input for Harnessing
Light II. The blog is at www.harnessingminds.org.
“The blog will extend to everyone in the photonics community
the opportunity to help design the future of photonics through discussion with [the]
committee,” said Eugene Arthurs, CEO of SPIE. “SPIE joins our partner
societies in encouraging comments from all sectors using photonics on issues such
as scope – what applications of photonics technology should be included in
the study – and impact – how can photonics technologies boost the economy
and quality of life.”
Broadband telecommunications is also thought by many to have the
potential to improve quality of life around the world. That idea is now nearly universally
accepted. I heard recently from David Chaffee, CEO of Chaffee Fiber Optics, which
publishes fibertoday.com and FTTH Prism; he is also the author of The Rewiring of
America: The Fiber Optics Revolution (Academic Press, New York, 1988) and Building
the Global Fiber Optics Superhighway (Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2000).
“Broadband is an enabling technology that will help nations improve the lot
of their citizens, whether it be via the Internet, or otherwise staying connected
through cell phones and other devices,” he said. “There is a global
race to broadband now going on, and the stakes are enormous.”
Further, Chaffee said there is an understanding that fiber optics
is the critical enabler in being able to handle the accelerating traffic loads.
“Every nation that has a successful broadband strategy has fiber optics at
the heart of it.”
Chaffee is the author of a new report from Laurin Publishing that
is a strategic guide to the next seven years in the optical components market. In
The Market for Fiber Optic Components: A Seven-Year Forecast, he explains how the
next seven years will bring major global movement in optical components and identifies
the market niches and sectors to pursue.
There are a number of key influencers for growth of the market.
Chaffee believes that primarily it is an understanding that people and the countries
they inhabit can be more productive through broadband. “Those of us who have
used the Internet are becoming more sophisticated with it: It is playing an increasingly
important role in our everyday lives, and that is resulting in the need for more
bandwidth,” he said. Further, its reach is growing into China, India, rural
Australia and Africa – new points where it didn’t exist before.
With this expansion, there will be a need for new enabling technologies
to meet it.“It is important to understand that there is almost a 1:1 relationship
between broadband growth and the need for optical systems and components,”
Chaffee said. “The fact that there is more wireless traffic going on out there
via smartphones, tablets, etc., is a great thing for the fiber optics industry because
it is the only pipe that can allow carriers to stay ahead of the network demand.
“Many people even in telecom don’t realize how critical
the optical components vendor is to making sure we stay ahead of these networking
traffic demands. Yet this industry continues to be very innovative in its ability
to engineer new quality components that will allow us to continue to propel more
photons down a fiber all the time.”
The Market for Fiber Optic Components: A Seven-Year Forecast is
available from Laurin Publishing. For more information, or to purchase the report,
visit www.photonics.com, or call (413) 499-0514.
MORE FROM PHOTONICS MEDIA