Much of 2009 and 2010 will see the communications laser business digging itself out of the mess created by the worldwide economic slump. But the medium-to-long term prospects for these devices now look quite good.
In the long-haul segment of the network, the scene now seems set for a major upgrade of carrier backbones. This will lead to enhanced demand for high-performance DFB and even FP lasers. This new demand will come both from the shift up to 100 Gbps that many of the leading carriers are considering and from the more gradual changeover to a WDM infrastructure compliant with the ITU-Ts OTN standards. CIR believes that this shift will mean the arrival of the first ever high volume market for tunable lasers, along with a substantial new market opening up for lasers in ROADMs.
The re-architecting of the core network in WDM form also raises the question of whether new roles will open up for pump lasers as optical amplifiers assume a new prominence
Lasers for the new carrier network will be high value-added products that can be sold on the basis of performance and superb engineering. But the low-end of the laser market now looks on the verge of explosion too.
In the LAN, for example, processor speeds have caught up with the capabilities of 10 GigE. That means that 10 GigE is about to go down the same mass market road as GigE has done in the past five years or so. Good news for the VCSEL business it would seem. PONs also continue their steady growth into the home and the latest active optical cabling may not just be a limited volume offering for the InfiniBand market but the way forward to new kinds of optical interfaces for the PC and for high end consumer video. 10 GigE and PONs are potentially huge markets for diode lasers and they are only just beginning to take off too.
But this is not to say that the way forward for the communications laser business will be an easy one or the decisions that product and planning managers in this business will have to take will be an easy one.
There are certainly dangers of taking the wrong direction technologically, for example. In the data center the speed at which single-mode fiber is adopted will radically impact the kinds of lasers that are used for data communications. This raises the question of whether the new breed of LW VCSELs that are about to hit the market will have sufficient credibility to be widely adopted. New kinds of lasers may also be needed for 100 GigE, a technology on the verge of commercialization that no one would have taken seriously five years ago.
Meanwhile, in the public network there is question of what type of lasers are needed for the next generation of PONs which may use WDM and/or operate at 10 Gbps, and with tunable lasers becoming a volume item, the old question of which tuning technology is optimal will raise its head again.
This report analyzes and quantified emerging opportunities across the entire communications laser space. It covers all the major laser architectures and technologies; DFB, FP, DBR, VCSEL, tunables, etc. as well as the opportunities in communications for pump lasers and some of the newer types of lasers such as quantum dot lasers and silicon lasers. It also discusses the latest innovations in laser manufacturing, packaging and integration and how this will play out in the marketplace.
We have also included in this report an analysis of the strategies being adopted by laser firms both large and small and, as with all CIR reports, this study also includes a detailed five-year forecast of the markets covered.