Wavelength or "lambda" services using dense wave division multiplexing (DWDM) as an alternative to structured high-capacity SONET-based private lines are forecast to grow from $1 billion worldwide this year to more than $3.3 billion in 2005, according to Dataquest Inc., a unit of Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT and ITB).
Wavelength growth has been powered by the worldwide expansion of bandwidth demand, including for the Internet and Internet Protocol (IP), dramatic increases in WAN and LAN traffic, computer data centers, storage area networks (SANs), new optical services such as public Ethernet, and more. The globalization of businesses and the formerly regional carriers that serve them is another crucial market driver.
"Wavelength services are a rapidly growing alternative to structured high-end SONET-based private lines as well as dark fiber," said Steve Koppman, senior analyst for Gartner Dataquest's Telecommunications and Networking group. "While at least half wave revenue today is carrier wholesale and at least half the remainder sales to ISPs, enterprise retail will grow over the next few years, approaching or exceeding 20 percent of the market."
Wavelengths have a number of potential advantages over both conventional private line and unlit "dark fiber." Long-haul waves are sold primarily on an "unprotected" basis, allowing customers lower prices than conventional private line while waves are at the same time typically more economical than bringing up a business customer's own national or international dark fiber network.
Wavelengths can also mean more available carrier bandwidth supply, faster provisioning and greater flexibility, scalability and protocol independence. They will tend to facilitate deployment of new optical technologies like public Ethernet in long-haul and metropolitan networks, though at least in the near term, the economic case for waves is not as strong in the metro as the long-haul.
Additional information is available in the Gartner Dataquest Perspective "Lambdas Worldwide: The New 'Wave' in Dedicated Services." This market analysis examines the advantages and problems of wavelength services and provides a worldwide forecast by region.
Gartner, Inc. is a research and advisory firm that helps clients understand technology and drive business growth. Gartner's Worldwide Optical Network Equipment and Components research service is targeted at optical components manufacturers; optical switching systems vendors; traditional and emerging equipment manufacturers; ISPs; incumbent and next generation carriers implementing an optical infrastructure; and the financial community. For more information, visit www.gartner.com.