A fuzzy filter

If you've been gazing into a crystal ball, hoping to spot opportunities in the telecommunications market, you've no doubt found that the current contradictions make for fuzzy viewing. Demand for new equipment is weak, yet a healthy 40% to 50% annual growth in Internet and data traffic must eventually require carriers to upgrade or build new systems. The long-haul market has slowed dramatically, but growth in metro and access markets is looking very positive. And long-feared competitors have exited the market or sold off key parts of their business, opening new niches and attracting new competitors.

It's also clear that the bursting of the telecom bubble was just that—the end of an period of exuberance and expansion that will not be repeated. Instead, according to research by our colleagues at KMI and Strategies Unlimited, the market should find a balance and begin a more stable expansion over the next 12 to 18 months. In fact, the market should see a gradual climb back to annual growth rates of 10% to15% in the next five years. So taking the long-if-fuzzy view is critical to business survival as this difficult year ends.

The December issue is typically one of reflection, but I say let's look ahead, not back. That's just what our contributing editor Jeff Hecht does with his technology forecast article, in which you'll read that technologies such as coarse WDM and tunable lasers are beginning to make a real impact. You'll also see how the growth of broadband services to the office and the home is finally beginning to drive demand across the network. Sales of new equipment to meet this demand have been slow, but we know that introduction of new technology is usually slower than we initially estimate, and far slower than the marketing hype predicts. Fortunately, the cautious implementation of new technologies is a better indicator of real acceptance in the marketplace.

As for market acceptance, in its three years of existence, WDM Solutions has gained a dedicated readership along with multiple national awards for editorial excellence. I write this because, like the companies and professionals we serve, we've seen the turmoil and look forward to a continued relationship as the industry rebounds. Here's to 2003—and beyond!

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