LightTrends Newsletter

Still Searching for the Holy Grail of Access Technologies

November 2021

LightCounting releases its 2021 Access Optics Report and Forecast

Access networks are a critical link between internet users and internet providers, and although the communications industry began deploying optical access networks more than two decades ago, the search for the optimal technology and architecture continues. Smartphones are generally connected with 4G and 5G mobile RAN networks or WiFi, while laptops and tablets used in residences and small businesses may be connected via Fiber-to-the-X, coax-fiber hybrid Distributed Access Architecture, copper-based DSL, or fixed wireless access. And now some well-funded tech giants are starting to provide access via Low Earth Orbit Satellite (LEOS) and other technologies. All of which says that after all these years, operators are still looking for ways to provide faster, cheaper, more ubiquitous connections to the internet to their customers.

Even within just one type of access network – Fiber-to-the-X – choices abound, and new variations are being developed, with currently available flavors including GPON, EPON, 10G-EPON, XG-PON2, XGS-PON, NG-PON2, and some pre-standard 25G and 50G PONs. For providers of optical components, the plethora of choices, and the ongoing search for new and better access technologies poses a serious challenge. Backing all of the current and future technologies is expensive and choosing just one incorrectly leads to poor returns on investment.Although we can’t reduce uncertainty in this market to zero, we can reduce it to a tolerable level, by analyzing the options and predicting the market acceptance of optical and other access technologies and boiling the analysis down to detailed forecasts of optical transceivers used in optical fronthaul, backhaul, and PON networks. Our latest forecast predicts that the market for optics for access networks will exceed $7.5 billion cumulatively over the next five years.

Although we can’t reduce uncertainty in this market to zero, we can reduce it to a tolerable level, by analyzing the options and predicting the market acceptance of optical and other access technologies and boiling the analysis down to detailed forecasts of optical transceivers used in optical fronthaul, backhaul, and PON networks. Our latest forecast predicts that the market for optics for access networks will exceed $7.5 billion cumulatively over the next five years.



Sales of PON optics will exceed $3 billion, and sales of grey and WDM transceivers for fronthaul will account for another $2.9 billion from 2022-2026, with the balance being for backhaul and midhaul applications.

During the forecast period, 25G and 50G PON standards will be finalized, new fronthaul architectures will be developed, and LEOS satellite providers will wage a serious competitive battle against the entrenched internet providers of the past two decades. In addition, governments are taking renewed interest in promoting and providing financial support to boost the deployment of broadband, especially in hard to reach or under-served areas. All of which has an impact the number and type of optical transceivers sold in a given year.

If you’d like to know more about the challenges and the opportunities in access network optics, our full report and forecast spreadsheet are now available.

More information on the report is available at: Market Reports

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