Optical groundwire shifts to Asia, emerging markets

Dec. 1, 2004

Worldwide demand for optical ground wire (OPGW) remains strong and is expected to grow at a 2% CAGR from 2004 through 2008. According to a recent study from KMI Research (Providence), much stronger growth rates and opportunities exist in the emerging markets.

Worldwide demand for OPGW peaked in 2000 with the installation of more than 60,000 km. Since 2000, annual demand has declined each year, but demand is still comparable to the levels at the outset of the telecom boom.

KMI’s forecast reveals that Asia will be the largest regional market for OPGW. Asia accounted for 44% of OPGW demand in 2003-up from 19% in 1999-and will retain that share through 2008. North America and Western Europe fell from a combined 37% share in 1999 to an 18% share in 2003. The shift in OPGW demand toward developing countries underscores the relative saturation of fiber requirements for utilities in North America and Western Europe, whereas huge opportunities still exist in the emerging markets. With the exception of Brazil, China, and Saudi Arabia, few developing countries deployed OPGW in the 1990s. Since 2000, developing countries have installed almost 155,000 km of OPGW, compared to 84,000 km installed from 1996 through 1999.

China accounted for about 24% of worldwide OPGW demand in 2003. As a developing nation, China has continued extensive deployments of optical fiber to upgrade its telecommunications infrastructure. By 2008, China and other developing countries will account for 84% of OPGW deployments.

In use since the early 1980s, OPGW consists of an aluminum or stainless steel tube that holds optical fibers. This tube is contained within stranded aluminum-covered steel wires that have both load-bearing and conductive functions. For more details on the report, “Worldwide OPGW Markets,” visit www.kmiresearch .com.

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