The state of the industry

The OFC/NFOEC Conference at the end of March was my introduction to the unique challenges faced by the fiber-optic communications industry. Nearly two months later, I continue to be humbled and inspired by these challenges.

The discussion at the OSA/Lightwave Executive Forum�which included top executives from leading component, subsystem, and system vendors and technical visionaries from the world's largest carriers�was humbling in its candor about the state of the industry. Many participants called for vendor consolidation, for the good of the industry. Others talked about strategies for thriving in segments of the market that are highly price sensitive. Several companies explained how moving their manufacturing overseas, primarily to China, helped them reduce costs. Others lamented the entrance of too many new players�primarily from Asia�competing on price and threatening the survival of the industry. I don't believe I was the only attendee who left that event with as many questions as answers about how to move forward.

Yet the conference was a source of inspiration for me about the future of this industry. Many OFC attendees and exhibitors I met remain optimistic despite both industry-specific and broader economic doom and gloom. A stream of new product announcements made at the conference confirms that sophisticated technological advances in fiber-optic communications continue to be made. Exhibitors demonstrated great creativity and willingness to try new ways to meet their customers' needs. And finally, I was struck by the respect and camaraderie widely evident among the people who are members of this unique community.

Without a doubt, this industry, like others, faces daunting challenges. We can embrace the need for change necessitated by the recession in ways that ensure we emerge as stronger competitors. Or we can hope for a return to business as usual.

Lightwave, which is celebrating 25 years covering fiber-optic communications, is no exception. We are making changes�in this magazine and on our web site�to meet the rapidly evolving needs of the fiber-optic communications community and ensure we are well placed to cover this industry for the next 25 years.

In our business and yours, continuous improvement is a necessary ingredient for success. I look forward to your suggestions about how Lightwave can best meet your information needs.

PS. To our subscribers who visited us at OFC and told us how much you are enjoying Lightwave as an e-zine, thank you for sharing your enthusiasm. Please share your experience with your colleagues as well�our digital format makes it easier than ever for them to experience what Lightwave has to offer.

Susan Smith
Group Publisher
Lightwave
susans@pennwell.com

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