FTTX, ROADMs drive fiber-optic test equipment growth

The global fiber-optic test equipment (FOTE) market registered revenues of $586.1 million in 2006, up 4.4% over the previous year, reports market research firm Frost & Sullivan (www.frost.com) in its study “World Fiber Optic Test Equipment (FOTE) Markets 2007.” Recovering from a 2001-2003 slowdown, the market has experienced steady growth from 2004 onward due to new technologies such as reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers (ROADMs) and growing deployments in access networks.

Frost & Sullivan’s analysts say ROADM technology has had “a tremendous impact” on the FOTE market in application areas such as R&D, manufacturing, and maintenance. And ROADM deployments are increasing, thanks to their ability to remote switch traffic from a WDM system at the wavelength layer.

Increased deployments in access and metro networks and the migration toward triple play are also driving demand for FOTE. Several service providers have begun to offer integrated triple-play test devices that feature a combination of broadband Internet access, television, and telephony services on a single converged platform. This rising trend has given a considerable boost to the FOTE market, say analysts.

FOTE can be categorized by dedicated instruments and platforms. Dedicated instruments include test equipment for a particular application or testing technology, such as optical time-domain reflectometers and optical power meters. Platforms refer to a combination of test devices in one box. As networks continue to evolve from traditional to next-generation converged networks, technicians are also moving from TDR and DSL testing to OTDR, optical loss test set (OLTS), and optical spectrum analyzer (OSA) testing for the FTTH environment.

Integrated platforms are in higher demand due to their compactness and greater ease-of-use. Although dedicated instruments have better testing capabilities, they are likely to experience reduced demand as time goes on and technologies advance. Currently, platforms generate approximately 60% of the market revenues, while dedicated instruments account for the remaining 40%. Frost & Sullivan analysts expect this trend to continue.

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