By Mark Telford
At IIR's Evolving SDH conference in London, last month, discussions focused on the challenge to consolidate investment in legacy SDH networks. This would be achieved by evolving them to accommodate Ethernet, IP, MPLS and WDM in next-generation multiservice networks designed for packet transport.
Chairman Steve Harbour, CEO of Native Networks, contrasted 1999, when networks were expected by now to be all-IP, to 2001/2 (after the bubble burst) when carriers need to get value from their existing USD300bn investment in SDH/SONET networks since 1995.
However, "the underlying market drivers are still good," he reckons. RHK's Frederique Dame, Analyst, Optical Networks, Europe & Global, says that, with the survival of new pan-European carriers in jeopardy and more mergers between incumbents likely following Telia-Sonera, consolidation (page 16) and liquidity problems will constrain growth for the next 12-18 months.
According to RHK's Optical Networks Europe: SDH & WDM/ON Market Share report, despite some analyst predictions that next-generation transmission platforms would dampen growth in this sector, fuelled by the growth of 2.5 and 10Gbit/s systems the European market for SDH technology is holding ground in the face of difficult market conditions.
Revenues from SDH add/drop multiplexer technology were flat from 2000's USD5.1bn to 2001's USB5bn as operators continue to optimise the return on investment in existing technology platforms (over 70% of the market for optical transmission equipment).