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Fiber to eclipse copper in 'structured cabling systems' by 2008

16 Feb 2007

In a major industry shift, fiber-cabling shipments will exceed those of copper by 2008, according to a market forecast.

Between 2000 and 2006, the structured cabling system (SCS) market for both fiber and copper was generally in the doldrums, but the rate of installation and especially that of fiber are set to pick up significantly during 2007. Details of these shifts are presented in FTM's report entitled Structured Cabling Systems Market.

An SCS is a set of cabling and connectivity devices that integrate voice, data, video, as well as the various management systems of a building including safety alarms, security access, energy systems and the like.

According to the study, fiber-cabling shipments will grow from $1.2 billion in 2005 to $4.0 billion by 2010 – a growth rate of 26%. The highest growth application is expected to be data centres.

Frank Murawski, president of FTM Consulting, gave optics.org a brief update on the ups and downs of the SCS sector since the telecoms sector boom and bust, and further explained why fibre will soon take the top position.

"The SCS market went from consecutive years of double-digit growth in the 1990s to low, single-digit growth by 1999," he said. "Compounding the market decline in 2000 was the US economic slowdown. Then market development through to 2003 continued to be soft with minimal, or no growth.

"In 2004, the market recovered slightly due to new web applications and PC upgrades. But it still looked as if the market would continue to stagnate. However, our research indicates that there was a resumption of double-digit growth in 2006, significantly driven by the need to relieve network congestion, particularly in data centres.

"The need for higher speeds will primarily include Gigabit Ethernet speeds in excess of 1 Gbit/s. In turn, this will require fibre cabling, as copper cabling will not provide the performance required. Our analysis indicates that copper unshielded twisted pair (UTP) cabling will under-perform for speeds in excess of 1 Gbit/s over longer distances," he said.

FTM predicts a major shift in the market for SCS deployments by 2008, when, for the first time ever, fiber-cabling shipments will exceed copper UTP cabling shipments for SCS deployments. Fiber cabling is then expected to become the dominant cabling medium for SCS applications such as data centres, campus and Fiber-to-the-Zone (FTTZ). Moreover, fiber cabling will continue to be the dominant cabling used in riser-cabling subsystems.

"We project that copper UTP cabling will continue to dominate the horizontal cabling subsystem market in the future," Murawski added. "Fiber-to-the-desk will remain elusive, being a small percentage of the total horizontal cabling subsystem market in the future."

• The study forms part of the IGI Certified report series and provides all of the detailed product forecasts segmented by applications, by Gigabit Ethernet and by type of cable (SM, MM, Cat 5, Cat 5e, Cat 6, etc.).

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