October, 2003

Previous Issues:September 2003, August 2003, July 2003, June 2003, March 15, 2003, October, 2002 , August, 2002, May, 2002

The FOA Office Has moved. Please use our new phone, fax and mailing address.

Another Reason To Consider 50/125 MM Fiber
In recent conversations with a fiber optic cable manufacturer, we were informed that laser-rated 50/125 fiber with >500 MHz-km bandwidth at both 850 and 1310 nm was now costs about 10% less than FDDI grade 62.5/125 fiber. The 50 micron core is easier to make and requires less exotic raw materials, so the cost is lower. Very high bandwidth 50/125 with 2000 MHz-lm bandwidth now costs about 20% more than 62.5/125, but is justifiable for corporate backbones and campus networks that expect to use 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

What's Up With The Fiber Optic Market?

In the last month, we have attended two marketing meetings on fiber optics. The first, sponsored by the San Diego Telecom Council featured a market analyst for an investment company looking into the prospects from a investment standpoint, while the second was KMI Research's 25th annual extravaganza in Newport RI. Both offered some hope, but also some worries.

The SDTC meeting was held in a hotel meeting room next door to a medical seminar on "Wound Management." Several attendees at the SCTC meeting wondered if we were in the wrong meeting, as "wound management" could rightfully describe the current activities of lots of companies in the fiber optic business! We were surprised at the big turnout, as San Diego is the center of wireless telecom (Qualcomm is based here) and wireless is pushed for every possible application here.

KMI's meeting was even bigger and included many "movers and shakers" from the industry. This meeting is where lots of important information gets released - going back to the meeting exactly 20 years ago when MCI announced their commitment to use SM fiber for their long distance network, abandoning digital microwave.

Both meetings came to the same conclusion. The FO business has reached the bottom and things are looking up. Well, sorta. The bust has driven component costs so low that profitability is difficult for manufacturers. Rich Mack of KMI pointed out that prices for SM optical fiber is at about 2 cents per meter, less than kite string and monofilament fishing line! Consensus was that manufacturing in very large volume and/or low labor cost areas was the only way to make a profit. Component prices being lower means volume is higher to reach equal sales.

Long haul telephony is still slumping but metro networks, especially in second-tier cities is healthy. FTTH (fiber to the home) is getting a lot of attention because of the PON (passive optical network) standard and open RFQ from Verizon, SBC and Bellsouth, but nobody seems to believe it is real. See our notes on FTTH below. SM fiber consumption by the RBOCs was down from 8 millon fiber-km in 2000 to about 2.3 million fiber-km this year. Growth rates in the single digits compare poorly with 20-30% in the 1990s.

A consequence of the big blackout earlier this year is renewed interest from the power companies in more efficient grid management. Using fiber for both feedback and control creates a big market for fiber optic cable, components and installation.

Multimode fiber and components are doing better, up to about 6-8% of the market, due to its use in high speed networks and security systems. This is good news for installers, as more are active in MM installations for premises and campus networks and security systems. Prices are down to about 6-7 cents per meter for fiber and consumption is up to about 2.8 million km per year - that's a lot of links when you consider how short the average MM link is.

Fiber To The Home...Promises, Promises...

Verizon, SBC and BellSouth have agreed on a standard architecture for FTTH, using a PON (passive optical network) architecture that allows sharing expensive components like lasers among up to 32 customers to reduce costs. Some people (the optimists) see this as a sign that FTTH's time has finally come. And they note it's a good time, as component costs have declined severely since the bubble burst two years ago and we are still in an oversupply condition for most components.

Mumbles of 5 million ( yes, 5,000,000) FTTH connections per year are heard in some of these meetings. Naysayers point out that the telcos are famous for getting vendors hopes up but never following through with big orders.

We remain skeptical. Some reasons we've heard recently that we'll probably never see FTTH

Another possibility for FTTH involves nontraditional communications suppliers like power utilities. Several utilities have commited to fairly large installations - tens of thousands of homes - but only time will tell if these are simply field trials or the beginning of some serious investments in communications infrastructure.

Obviously, hope FTTH will take off and we'll be working overtime to certify enough CFOTs and CFOSs to install 5 million lines per year. Keep your fingers crossed.

New Tech Topics

Plastic Optical Fibers (POF)

Wavelength-Division Multiplexing

Fiber Amplifiers

Eric Pearson's Newsletters - with some tests on connectors.

Interested In Advanced Certification?

If you think you might, download and print yourself a FOA Logbook to keep track of your experience and traning. It will help you qualify for the CFOS certifications.

Your Name, CFOT - It pays to advertise!

The FOA encourages CFOTs to use the logo on their business cards, letterhead, truck or van, etc. and provides logo files on this site for that purpose. But we are also asked about how to use the CFOT or CFOS certifications. Easy, you can refer to yourself as "Your Name, CFOT" or "Your Name, CFOS/T" for example.

Feel free to use the logo and designations to promote your achievements and professionalism!

Remember To Renew Your Certification !

Remember to renew your FOA certification. All current CFOTs have a ID Card with their certification data and we keep a database of current CFOTs to answer inquiries regarding your qualifications if needed. If you forgot to renew, use the online application form or the FOA online store to renew NOW!

Want To Get FOA Email?
We have been asked if we could send the FOA newsletter by email or post it on the website. We are looking into that and will definitely get one started soon. When you renew your certification, you will be asked if you are interested in email newsletters and if so, you will be asked to give your email address for us to use in a mailing list. If you want to get started now, send an email to info@thefoa.org with the subject "eMail List"
Note that The FOA never releases its mailing lists for any use! Your data is always safe with us.

To Contact The FOA:
The Fiber Optic Association
1119 S Mission Road, # 355
Fallbrook, CA 92028
Office Hours 10AM-5 PM Pacific Time
Telephone: 760-451-3655
Fax: 781-207-2421

Officers and
Board of Directors
Jim Hayes, President, Treasurer
Elias Awad, Clerk, Director of Education
Eric Pearson, Director of Certification
Tom Collins, Gateway Comm. College
Van Ewert, AESA
Bill Graham
Karen Hayes
FOA Staff:
Jim Hayes, newsletter, website editor
Karen Hayes, Administration

The FOA is managed under contract by:
1119 S Mission Road, # 355
Fallbrook, CA 92028
Telephone: 760-451-3655
Fax: 781-207-2421
email: info@vdvworks.com
FOA Board of Advisors
Elias Awad, Clerk, Director of Education
Tony Beam
Dave Chaney
F. Douglas Elliot, Past President
William H. Graham
Jim Hayes, President, Treasurer
John Highhouse, Past President
Danny S. Lyall
Eric Y. Loytty
Bob Mason
Eric Pearson
Paul Rosenberg, Past President
Dan Silver
Richard James Smith
Dominick Tamone
Tom Collins
Van Ewert

Want to write for the FOA Newsletter? Send us articles, news, anything you think might be interesting to the rest of the membership!

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