MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., April 21 -- The global market for laser diodes for telecommunications applications will grow from $1.95 billion in 1999 to $2.92 billion in 2000, according to a report from market researchers Strategies Unlimited. The firm predicts that the market will reach $5.35 billion in 2004, for a compounded growth rate of over 22 percent per year. The report -- Telecom Laser Diode Market Review and Forecast-2000 -- analyzes the market for laser diodes for different applications, device types and levels of integration, as well as for wavelengths and data rates.In the report, researchers point out that while much has been made of the market for wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) components and equipment, a relatively small number of lasers actually are used to launch signals that are multiplexed onto one fiber for WDM. The report notes that long-reach lasers represent the higher priced and high growth segment of the market. For example, unit sales of lasers used for transmission of 10 Gb/s signals in telecom systems grew 250 percent in 1999 alone. Some new products, such as tunable lasers, hold potential to seize a sizable share of specific market segments by 2004, according to the report.In other predictions, the strong growth in revenue is expected to continue in conjunction with steeply falling prices and even stronger growth in unit sales. Strategies Unlimited notes that despite shortages in many product areas in the industry, equipment makers have been able to secure ever-lower prices for specific products. The firm points out that suppliers have been able to meet these expectations, since the sharp growth in unit sales is bringing new economies of scale and experience in an industry unaccustomed to such large volumes.