Everywhere on this planet hair-thin optical fibers carry vast quantities of information from place to place. There are many desirable properties of optical fibers for carrying this information. They have enormous information-carrying capacity, are low cost, and possess immunity from the many disturbances that can afflict electrical wires and wireless communication links. The superiority of optical fibers for carrying information from place to place is leading to their rapidly replacing older technologies. Optical fibers have played a key role in making possible the extraordinary growth in world-wide communications that has occurred in the last 25 years, and are vital in enabling the proliferating use of the Internet.
Of key importance in the course of these developments in information technology have been a few basic, but vitally significant, events. Principal among these are the invention and development of the laser, the growing appreciation that this might make optical communications practically useful, the production of very pure glass, which was sufficiently transparent that long distance transmission of light through glass fibers became practical, and the digital revolution.
It all starts with cabling
That least-mentioned item is where digital India comes into play. In 2015, Bharat Broad Band Network Ltd. (BBNL), which oversees the National Optical Fiber Network (NOFN) was created. That entity is currently tunneling its way through and across India to lay fiber optic cable in a massive undertaking to bring high-speed internet connectivity to 600 million rural citizens. Targeted for completion in the near future, NOFN is expected to bridge the gap between rural and urban India with a series of telecommunications, commercial, educational, medical, and government-based services that will be carried over the new national broadband network. “There are a series of challenges. One has to lay infrastructure in a quarter million locations and these locations are in very different geographies,” says Aruna Sundararajan, who heads Bharat Broadband Network Limited, the company tasked with building the network. “Some of them are in remote villages in the north-east and some of them are in coastal villages.” Sundararajan says India’s NOFN will play a vital role in bridging the country’s digital divide, as well as the divide between rural and urban communities.
While NOFN is among the world’s largest fiber optic projects—expected to use some 500,000 plus kilometers of cable—it is also heavily reliant on JISL’s expertise in manufacturing sensitive yet rugged HDPE ducts to house and protect the fiber optic cable against a variety of extremes. These include extreme cold, heat, monsoons, and even teething rodents that tend to nibble on cables buried 10 feet below ground. To ward them off, JISL engineers have developed a special duct that includes a “bitterent” that dissuades rodent gnawing.
Remarkable as that sounds, it is only one of many “firsts” from a company that annually manufactures over 87,000 metric tons of HDPE ducts that meet strict international performance standards for the likes of BSNL, Reliance, Airtel, Tata Tele, Nokia/Alcatel Lucent, and Vodafone, to name just a few of the global telecom giants using JISL products around the world. In business since 1963, it should come as no surprise to learn that JISL knows a thing or two about polymer ducting and its manufacture. Since 1993, high-speed air blowing of OFC through ducts could be accomplished only by developing a co-extruding process that incorporates a lubricant into the polymer to reduce sliding friction inside the duct.
A new economy
“This makes it possible for a remote farmer to get on an e-commerce platform and reach a much wider market. Similarly it makes it possible for children living in a village to get much better access to teachers and quality healthcare,” says Sundrarajan. A recent report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India and the Boston Consulting Group suggested fast paced growth in computer literacy and a greater use of data on mobile phones would help India’s Internet economy grow to $200 billion dollars, or 5 per cent of India’s GDP, by 2020.
Governments across Asia are encouraging investment in high capacity networks. They see fiber as the infrastructure of the 21st century. In a recent global survey, 71 percent of respondents expect to transition the majority of their networks to FTTH by 2025. Thus, governments are encouraging investment in very high-capacity networks and accelerate public access to Wi-Fi for the region. According to the 2016 FTTH Council Asia Pacific study, there are 94 FTTx projects in the region. For developing countries in Asia, such as India, with their rapidly increasing data traffic, it will be critical to continue to invest in broadband infrastructure in order to be economically competitive. This is especially true for India, which boasts an FTTH/B (fiber to the home/business) rate of just 0.5 percent according to the FTTH Council Asia Pacific, one of the lowest in the region. Multiple countries in Asia are launching smart nation initiatives to speed up digitalization such as Digital India, where it aims to convert 100 cities across the country into smart cities.
In India, high-speed broadband connectivity on optical fiber will be available in more than 150,000 gramme panchayats, with Wi-Fi hot spots and access to digital services at low tariffs – by the end of 2017 – 2018, according to Budget 2017-2018, the Minister of Finance. According to Reportlinker, various next generation technologies such as Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and Fiber to the X (FTTX), which require seamless connectivity for continuous operation, are expected to drive the optical fiber cables market in India with a CAGR of over 13percent during 2016 – 2021. Data traffic has also been shown to significantly increase in recent years with a growing number of mobile and broadband subscribers in India, which leads to the expansion of optical fiber cable infrastructure in the country. Internet-driven applications like HDTV, video on demand have also seen growing demand in the country, which will further accelerate the optical fiber cable market development in India.
Benefits for rural areas urban areas
High-speed fiber broadband and cellular connectivity support economic growth and an improved quality of life for everyone. And this should be available across all parts of Asia – no matter how rural or hard-to-reach. The combination of fiber and wireless technology will meet the needs of todays and tomorrow’s expanding bandwidth demands. A Passive Optical Network (PON) can be deployed by various network operators who want to deliver advanced voice, video and data services to their users/subscribers using fiber. A solid PON helps meet these challenges head on. It allows the central office to feed different niches (farms, residences, etc.) and assign different service profiles to each because everyone needs different levels of bandwidth. PONs are easy to install and reliable. While low-density areas are still a challenge; FTTH technologies are different today than even five years ago and can meet the six- to an eight-home per-mile challenge.
Fiber network convergence refers to the combination of multiple services within a single access network. In other words, a single pipe is used to deliver all or multiple forms of communication services. For example, fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) networks have an extensive footprint that is perfect for supporting fast-growing mobile applications such as distributed antenna system (DAS), small cell and Wi-Fi backhaul and/or Centralized-RAN front-haul. Through fiber network convergence, a service provider could deliver a wider range of services, adopt new business models, offer innovative services and enter new markets.
The process of fiber network convergence is primarily driven by the development of enabling technologies, user demand and the service providers’ capabilities. Large incumbent service providers have both wire line and wireless operations, so converging onto a single network and maximizing asset utilization makes excellent business sense. Real-life examples have occurred where an FTTH network was built, and several months later, the same construction crew dug up the same street to lay fiber for a cell site, which is wasteful and disruptive. Network convergence would mean one build-out that could be utilized for multiple service delivery platforms.
For smaller telcos, utilities and municipalities – who have more limited budgets – addressing multiple market segments, adding revenue streams and de-risking the business case may be critical elements in network convergence. A city may have a project to fiber up schools and government offices, another project for traffic lights and security cameras, one for Wi-Fi in the city centre and one for a residential high-speed internet. By converging multiple applications onto a single fiber network, this project now has more stakeholders, more sources of funding and greater economies of scale.
Ultrafast fiber networks are currently being rolled out to our customers across Asia and, while changes won’t happen overnight, small businesses will soon be able to compete on a level playing field with larger businesses in major cities.
Expansion of internet boosted by optical fiber
For the Indian Telecom Industry, Optic Fiber has begun the much-needed wave of ‘The Third Age of Connectivity’. Before Optic Fiber was introduced, the Broadband segment was solely dependent on the copper wire. Broadband is defined as always ‘ON’ with specified download speed. And Broadband should be with good Quality of Experience. Lately, there has been a sudden surge by both the Government and Indian telecom operators to use Optic Fiber cables since the future lies here. Driving the Bharat Net project and the Digital India campaign, the Indian Government is advocating the benefits and need for an Optic Fiber era in the Indian Telecom sector. Telecom giants are also acknowledging the fact and themselves laying Optic Fiber ducts to enhance their services and meet the requirements with good quality of the growing Internet user base that India harbors.
Countries in the emerged economies have deployed Optic Fiber much earlier. Not surprisingly, the difference is obvious in the data speeds of the fully-developed nations and India. When it comes to broadband bandwidth and speeds, India is far behind these nations. Indeed, Optic Fiber is the catalyst for change that needs to be inducted into the Indian economy if we wish to stand toe-to-toe with the rest of the fully-developed world.
Aptly termed the ‘Insulator’ for Broadband or Internet, Optic Fiber is capable of providing speeds up to several Gbps (Gigabit per second) and can support multiple devices at one go even to homes – a quality that is still a farfetched idea for Broadband run on older technologies like copper wire. Optic Fiber is designed for more bandwidth and higher speeds. The Optic Fiber cable comprises tens of strands of glass fiber, each no thicker than a human hair and capable of transmitting the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica contents in less than a second. Conversely, copper wire is based on the original telephone network that was upgraded to carry Internet signals and has very limited speed carrying capacity. In essence, Optic Fiber refers to the medium and the technology associated with the transmission of information as light pulses along a fiber made of glass. Since the speed of light is an astounding 300,000 Kms per second, Optic Fiber acts as an amazing medium of transmission. This feature finds wide usage in Optic Fiber communications, where it permits transmission over longer distances and at higher bandwidths (data rates) than copper wire cables.
Carrying more information than conventional copper wire, Optic Fiber is generally not subject to electromagnetic interference and the need to retransmit signals – a problem that afflicts metal wires excessively. Transmission over an Optic Fiber cable requires repeaters at specific distance intervals. Moreover, the glass fiber requires more protection with an outer cable than copper. Due to these reasons, and since the installation of any new cabling is labour intensive, only a few communities have installed Optic Fiber cables from the telecom company’s branch office to local customers (known as local loops).
Optic Fiber can be used as a medium for telecommunications and computer networking because it is flexible and can be bundled as cables and has a very small footprint. It is especially advantageous for long-distance communications because light propagates through the fiber with little attenuation or weakening compared to electrical cables. A type of fiber known as single mode fiber is used for longer distances while multimode fiber is used for shorter distances. Each fiber can carry many independent channels by using a different wavelength of light, termed wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM). Once installed in users’ homes, Optic Fiber is a better investment in terms of money as well as in the scalability it provides through years of longevity and by meeting the ever increasing data speeds need.
India: A golden opportunity for Optical Fiber Cable market
Today, a variety of industries including the medical, military, telecommunications, industrial, data storage, networking, and broadcast industries are able to apply and use fiber optic technology in a variety of applications. Additionally, it is indeed relevant to say that the telecommunications industry is the dominant user of optical fiber technology because the demand is high. In India, this demand has been on the rise and is being driven by factors like growth of fixed broadband, replacement of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited’s (BSNL) aging copper network with fiber optic cables (FOC), building an alternate network for National Defense, wireless backhaul network upgrade, and the need for higher speeds for 3G & broadband wireless access networks.
According to a recently published report by TechSci Research, the OFC market in India is projected to reach USD424 million by 2020 on account of growing adoption of smartphones, broadband services and 4G rollout. Indian consumers are increasingly shifting towards internet driven applications such as video on demand, HDTV, etc., which is boosting investments towards OFC network expansion throughout the country. In comparison to copper cables, OFC technology delivers much higher bandwidth, which has become extremely vital for supporting burgeoning data traffic.
A huge number of working class population in India own high-end smartphones supporting various technologies such as Wi-Fi, 3G, etc. This class of consumers, in particular, is boosting the demand for on-the-go high speed data services. As a result, the government of India has announced various projects to build and strengthen OFC network for addressing the country’s increasing data transmission requirements. In addition, digitization of cable TV network has been mandated in the country, which is further propelling the demand for OFC network. Currently, the major users of OFCs include telecom service providers, internet service providers, multiple system operators, Cable TV operators, defense agencies and PSUs among others.
“Government of India, on its part, is doing every bit to contribute towards expanding telecom infrastructure. This is evident from government’s participation in various telecom support projects such as National Optic Fiber Network (NOFN) to connect Gram Panchayats in rural pockets of India with a principal telecom network, for high speed data transmission and internet services. The NOFN project is expected to be one of the major drivers for OFC installations in India over the next five years.” said Mr. Karan Chechi, Research Director with TechSci Research, a global market research and consulting company.
The recent published report has evaluated future growth potential of OFC market in India and provides statistics and information on market structure, industry behavior and trends. The report includes market projections and demand forecasting. The report is intended to provide cutting-edge market intelligence and help decision makers in taking sound investment decisions. Besides, the report also identifies and analyzes the emerging trends along with essential drivers, challenges and opportunities in India’s OFC market.
Optical fiber cable market to witness a huge growth in near future because of the tremendous growth in telecom industry in India. There are new opportunities for mobile network space, especially for a single account holder to operate his mobile phone and surf the internet from another country. There is demand for fiber-optic lines in tier 3, 4, 5 and 6 Indian cities, as tier 1 cities have been wired up and tier 2 were almost being completed. Similarly, we see more opportunities in setting up fiber-optic network in the Indian government’s plan to build 100 Smart Cities. The subsea cable capacity has expanded with the use of advanced super-speed computers.