Global deployments of wireless broadband access systems now account for a significance slice of the optical components and module market, claims LightCounting. The market research firm reports that sales will surpass $500 million this year, while the total Ethernet transceiver market will reach $1.3 billion in 2014.
Sales of 3Gbps and 6Gbps optical transceivers connecting the base station to remote radio heads/ antennas will see 75 percent growth in 2014, while 10G modules for wireless have been ramping quickly and will lead the market’s growth in 2014. “Most of the 10-gig module volumes are for base station-to-antenna connections over a 0.5 to 7km reach,” said Vladimir Kozlov, CEO of LightCounting.
The wide-scale rollout of 3G and LTE networks by China Mobile accounts for part of the overall growth but LightCounting also highlights transceiver demand in Brazil, India, Korea and other countries in Asia and Latin America. The latest earnings report from Ericsson indicates that business in Asia and Latin America is growing while overall global networking equipment sales by Ericsson declined by 13% in Q1 2014, compared to the same quarter in 2013.
Connecting antenna towers with optics is a good long-term investment but the main problem for operators, particularly in developed countries, is dealing with right-of-way issues for fibre installations. Mobile operators in the U.S. rely on microwave technology to connect to antenna towers but fibre optics delivers much higher bandwidth than microwave, with 10G speeds being just the start.
Longer term, growth of wireless broadband traffic will impact optical networking overall, says LightCounting. China Mobile has reported that its wireless data traffic (cellular and Wi-Fi) grew by 48 percent in the first quarter of 2014 compared to a year earlier, while its mobile data traffic increased by 84 percent compared to the same period a year ago.
By Roy Rubenstein