27 January 2011 3:05:16 PM
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By David Chaffee
There is a global competition taking place with national pride at stake as countries try to get broadband to as many of their citizens as possible—aware that broadband leads to productivity both at the individual and national levels. There are currently in the neighborhood of 5 billion active cell phones on the planet. Trillions of tweets, emails, instant messages, videos, interactive games, etc., will flood the Internet this year. Meanwhile the use of the Internet continues to rapidly expand into new geographical areas. As we emerge from recession, our lives and our businesses are becoming even more rooted online.
Australia is embarking on a massive new high-end broadband build-out throughout that spacious nation. British Telecom in the United Kingdom has just announced dozens of communities where big broadband will come to the residence. Billions of dollars will be expended in the United States on telecom infrastructure builds this year as part of the broadband stimulus program. China continues to build cities at a remarkable rate and connect them with broadband. African nations such as Kenya are starting to build out broadband telecom infrastructure. India's budding connectedness represents both a challenge and an enormous opportunity.
Global growth is all about getting the fiber connection more directly to the residence, a trend that fiber optic experts see accelerating. In fact, Corning CFO Jim Flaws said his company “believes this year has the potential to be the largest year for fiber to the home in history.” The growth is coming from outside the United States, which is seeing the Verizon FiOS build-out slow down. But enough other nations have recognized the importance of the FTTH connection to bolster it to an even higher level globally.
This is all good for optical communications, which is the only future-proof communications medium out there, the only one blessed by having the massless photon as its unit of transmission. Telecom engineers have for many years understood that the electron, while great as an information processor, is fundamentally limited in its ability as a bit transmitter, and that in order for the human race to keep its networks ahead of its traffic, optical is going to have to be at the heart of those networks.
With more than a third of OFC/NFOEC’s attendees hailing from outside the United States, as well as growing international pavilions on the show floor, the global race for broadband will be headed for Los Angeles this March.
Founder/CEO, Chaffee Fiber Optics