by John Lively
It’s no surprise to anyone that 2023 will not be remembered as a good year for vendors of fronthaul and Fiber-to-the-X transceivers and optics. We currently expect total unit shipments to decline by 10%, and sales by nearly 20%, compared to 2022, driven by excess inventory on top of normal cyclicality in RAN and FTTx deployments.
The next five years are a different story, however, as we expect the market to grow at a 9% CAGR through 2028. Next generation products will lead the sales growth in both wireline and wireless access. In Fiber-to-the-X, 25G and 50G PON deployments will begin to ramp up in 2025, offsetting declining sales of 10G-PON. In wireless, fronthaul upgrades for advanced 5G and 6G networks, using 50G and 100G devices, will also begin in the 2025-2026 timeframe.
While so much time and energy are spent by industry participants advancing new PON and fronthaul standards, it is easy to forget that other old and new alternative technologies for providing broadband access continue to be developed. DOCSIS 4.0 deployment is beginning now, allowing cable operators to offer multi-gigabit services over hybrid-fiber-coax networks. Billions are being spent on LEOS networks and some are carrying live traffic already. Apple has already introduced the first commercial application of 5G-NTN (non-terrestrial networking), and there are more than 5 million 5G Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) subscribers in the US and that number is growing very rapidly.
All the details of LightCounting’s latest access optics forecast update, and further details of alternative access network technologies, are explained in the report and companion spreadsheet, available to subscribers at: https://www.lightcounting.com/login.