Waiting for the Welcome Wagon

Waiting for the Welcome Wagon

Stephen M. Hardy

Editor in Chief

stephenh@pennwell.com

Moving into a new job is a lot like moving into a new house. As homeowners will attest, a world of possibilities opens before you as the moving van drives away and you step through the front door. But before you can take advantage of these opportunities, you have to figure out the basics. Who are my neighbors? Where`s the nearest grocery store? Why can`t I get my hands on a phone book? And where did I pack my screwdrivers?

It can be pretty disorienting. And if you recall your first few days in your present home--or in your present job--you have a good idea of how I feel as I write my first editorial as editor in chief of Lightwave. Having arrived here after nearly 10 years of covering the military electronics arena (as my Pentagon sources used to delight in saying, "I`d tell you what I did there, but then I`d have to kill you"), I find myself with many new avenues to explore--and with a fervent wish for a fiber-optic street map I could follow.

Fortunately, I`m not completely without direction. I already know my WDM from my fddi and my LANs from my WANs from my MANs. I know that there`s nothing Impressionistic about monet and that the only thing Shakespearean about Sonet is its elegance as a transmission scheme ("My transmission`s frames are nothing like the sun...."). I know that not all ATMs dispense money.

But there`s so much more to learn. Like...well, come to think of it, like the same things you want to learn:

Advances in technology. To put it bluntly, what`s hot? Will Gigabit Ethernet come to fruition? When will photonic switching provide an economical means of improving the efficiency and expanding the application of lightwave networks? What new components and systems are now in the works for the next generation of fiber transmission?

Future uses of fiber. How will fiber compete with wireless communications schemes as carriers expand their networks? For example, will cable-TV companies continue to supplement their copper plant with fiber, or will direct broadcast satellite technology render cable--and even local cable companies themselves--obsolete? What new services will increase the demand for fiber in other applications? When will fiber reach the home? The desktop? (And what comes next: fiber-to-the-brain?)

The Telecommunications Act. The legislation was supposed to be a boon to competition, but will companies merge so quickly that only titans will occupy the new, supposedly level playing field? And what happens if some of the many appeals before the Federal Communications Commission and the courts succeed? Washington isn`t done with fiber yet.

The international view. Fiber use is growing worldwide. Innovation can occur anywhere. When new technologies and applications emerge around the globe, how will I find out about them?

Hmmm...this list would make a good manifesto for a publication that covers the fiber optics community--and looking through past issues of Lightwave, stories on these and other topics appear frequently within the magazine`s pages. Perhaps I`ve already found that fiber-optic street map I`ve been seeking.

But like any map of a growing area, Lightwave must evolve as new fiber-optic avenues appear. You can therefore expect to see some changes within our pages as we continue to survey the frontiers on which readers like you perform their jobs. What shape will these changes take? Stick around and find out. I promise you it won`t be boring.

While you`re at it, keep an eye on our Web site as well. We`ll be expanding its content, while making it easier and more enjoyable to navigate. If you haven`t visited our home page yet, check us out at www.light-wave.com. Then monitor our progress over the next few months.

Meanwhile, I`ll be settling into my new home...I mean job. As the new kid in town, I`m eager to meet the rest of the community, and I look forward to talking to as many Lightwave readers as possible at trade shows, seminars, and other events. Drop me an e-mail and let me know what`s on your mind.

Now excuse me while I go next door to my neighbor, George Kotelly, and ask to borrow a cup of sugar. q

More in Market Research