Telco site Networks Asia has republished a CommScope report on whether fibre will ever replace copper.
Unfortunately, the link to the Network Asia site is coming up on my Mac, on which I have Symantec’s security software, as being infected with "drive-by-downloads" as you can see at Symantec’s Safe Web report here.
It is very likely the drive-by-downloads in question will have no impact on my trusty and trusted Mac, but not wanting to take any chances (and not wanting you to take any chances either), I’m not going to link directly to the story.
The blog post’s author is Laura Chen, a vice-president of CommScope, which bills itself as a "leader in infrastructure solutions for communications networks".
Chen explains how "the question of whether fibre will replace copper cable was first proposed to me more than a decade ago and certainly has become a popular topic in cabling industry", and asks a crucial question: "Has this been verified by actual market performance?"
Pointing towards "CommScope's observation in China, it is true that the application fields for fibre have significantly extended; however copper cable remains vital in several key applications".
Chen divides the cabling market into two major application fields — data centres and intelligent buildings — and points to a "growing trend of fibre in the data centre market".
She explains that the "normal proportion of fibre and copper cable implementation in the data centre is 40% and 60% respectively".
However, Chen notes that "Data centre requirements for bandwidth will increase together with its scale expansion, and finally result in higher demand for fibre. Moreover, the percentage of fibre in large data centre (no less than 10,000 square meters) reaches 70%, much higher than the percentage of copper cable."
The story is different for intelligent buildings, however, where Chen states that while "the percentage of fibre implementation is comparatively higher in vertical backbone networks, copper cabling still dominates the applications of voice transmission and in-building networks".
Why? More below, please read on.
Mostly because of "the high cost of fibre-to-the-desk (FttD) systems as well as fibre’s high requirements for application environment and routine maintenance".
"Therefore," explains Chen, "in the market of intelligent buildings, the percentage of fibre usage is only around 30%, while copper cabling occupies the remaining 70% market share."
So, what does CommScope believe?
As an "integrated solution provider for fibre and copper cable", it should come as no surprise to see Chen and CommScope having a view.
The company says it "believes that both fibre and copper cable are making progress with fibre developing relatively faster".
"Since fibre and copper cable both serve Ethernet connections," continues Chen, "their specific applications are determined by the development and evolvement of Ethernet interface.
"In terms of the data centre market, fibre indeed holds a larger share because of its advantages in transmission speed and bandwidth.
"However, when it comes to the intelligent buildings market, copper cable is facing new opportunities brought on by the fast landing of the Power over Ethernet (PoE) application.
"Since copper cable is capable of transmitting data as well as supplying electrical power, its predominant application is to horizontal network transmission and device end," Chen adds.
She continues, stating: "With the rapid development and upgrading of Ethernet technology, its surrounding standards and the segmentation of application, the future of copper cable is still promising through such applications as PoE technology, wireless access, digital camera, LED-based power system and sensor networks.
"All of these applications will extend the scope of copper cable usage. Although fibre is more popular in the data centre market, the advent of 25G and 40G copper cable standards demonstrate the continuous evolvement of copper cable technology, which still has a strong presence, particularly in the area of server end access.
"This explains why fibre may not necessarily unify the data centre cabling market and the future trend of the cabling industry will be the long term co-existence and common development of both."
You would have to think that there are lessons for Australia’s copper and fibre-based multi-technology-mix, too, with the long-term co-existence and common development of both technologies, along with HFC hybrid fibre coax technologies all dominating Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure.
In any case, CommScope’s Laura Chen has offered some interesting information, and now you know about it, too.