SAN MATEO, Calif., Feb. 16 -- According to the most recent optical communication cable study from ElectroniCast, optical fiber will continue to play a critical role in communication network expansion. The optical fiber manufacturing process has evolved to accommodate the exponential increase in data carrying capacity since fiber's introduction. Optimized for various performance requirements, a new generation of fiber is now being introduced every two years to keep pace with the transmission speed of newer optical networking equipment requirements, the study said. "Current generations of fibers are capable of transmitting 80 channels at 10 Gb/s per channel with 50 GHz channel spacing over moderate distances," said Saba Hailu, senior analyst at ElectroniCast. "Closer channel spacing, more capacity over longer distances (more than 1000 km) without regeneration will be typical of future generation fibers. The capacity demand explosion is fueling significant increases in fiber production capacity." Fiber optic cable suppliers are reporting that they currently get more inquiries than they can handle. Cablers who lack captive supply of fiber are struggling to meet order commitments from their customers, at times causing delays of up to a year. Large users have multi-year contractual agreements with fiber/cable suppliers to assure on-time deployment. "One major carrier, for example, is building their pipes now but only put in a few strands of the latest fiber in current production and deploy the rest gradually as newer fiber becomes available," Hailu said. The report stated that global cable deployment reached $24.4 billion in 2000. The average annual growth rate (AAGR) of cable consumption value will be 10 percent over the next five years, reaching $39.4 billion in 2005. Over the 2005-2010 period overall consumption value will reach $66.1 billion even though sub-ocean cable deployment is expected to decline.