Ready to catch the wave

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Welcome to Europe's newest fibre optics communications magazine. We're prepared for a renaissance of the industry - and here's why...

While developing Lightwave Europe over recent months and talking to many key figures in the industry, one question often asked of me has been: why are you doing it? Or, to be more specific: why are you launching LWE right now?

It's a fair question when one considers of some of the sad faces at ECOC 2001, and recent forecasts for closures, cuts, and consolidation - or "right-sizing" as the PR people love to call it. But when one takes a longer view of the fibre-based telecoms industries, particularly in Europe, the trends for take-up and installation of fibre and network management systems are actually quite healthy.

It may be early to talk about seeing the fabled green shoots of recovery, but LWE is establishing itself now to catch the wave that is clearly building. As you can see in our debut issue, there are a lot of good reasons to feel more confident about the world's second largest market for optical fibre, systems and components.

Our first analysis of the European market - on pages 16-17, from KMI, the market research firm owned by PennWell, publisher of Lightwave Europe - forecasts that the slowdown of 2001 will "bottom out" this year in 2002 and then steadily rebuild, reaching historic levels by 2005. In terms of value, this year alone the fibre optic cable market is estimated to be above Euro2 billion, and the DWDM equipment market spend during 2002 should exceed Euro2.7 billion.

The financial potency of the recovery hinges on a combination of factors: at the forefront of these are the technologies supporting communication. Developers have only scratched the surface of the potential of the III-V materials that allow greater integration of optical components (see Technology, pages 37-38) and higher transmission rates. There is strong growth in DWDM solutions (as you will see in the April issue) and fibre amplifiers. Our magazine will focus on such developments and their implementation in real systems, with case studies, such as the feature on Siemens' broadband installation in Italy (pages 34-35).

However, LWE will not overlook the factors that will influence business improvements, such as marketing which a lot of industry figures have been pondering especially over the past year. In our detailed feature on the prospects for broadband driving greater deployment of optical fibre (pages 22-24), Ericsson's Tor Hammarström says: "There can be no doubt that optical systems are the only feasible solution to deliver high bandwidth - but currently the most important issue is to stimulate market demand." (It would also be helpful if there was some better content out there to stimulate the public. There is undoubtedly a lot of spending money burning a hole in TV viewers' pockets).

There are numerous opportunities for technology upgrade within networks and these we will document month by month. I hope you enjoy the new coverage of this exciting marketplace and I look forward to meeting many of you at forthcoming shows, such as CeBIT (Hanover), OFC (Anaheim), the new Fibercomm show in Munich and ECOC 2002 in Copenhagen - by which time a few more faces should be smiling.

Matthew Peach
Editor in Chief, Lightwave Europe
matthewp@pennwell.com

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