As I am preparing the Back To The (Fiber) School season, which is going to start quite strongly in a couple of weeks, I am digging into my personal archives to put together some fancy tutorials on Technology and Markets trends.
Among a couple of interesting things that I've re-discovered, I found this slide - part of a 140-slides training binder that I've created back in 1992. It shows the theorical minimum attenuation of so-called "infra-red optical fibers. Take Fluoride fiber for instance : 0.001 dB/km kind of order of magnitude. A 100 times less (means : 100 times better) than the best of the best optical fibers currently manufactured for submarine systems (the Formula One of Optical Communications, that is).
This slide is 16-years old. Those magical fibers are still under the hood of some secret labs somewhere on the Planet (Corning might be one of those). Why ? My take is that this technology is such a fantastic leap frog (remember : attenuation 100 times better than the best fiber today) that its introduction will induce a complete revamp of the actual network design and construction methods. New cables, new splice boxes, new splicing process, new connectors, new test instruments. Plus, on top, new transmission systems. The whole supply chain to be changed.
For an industry which is just recovering from a quite heavy downturn period, such a paradigm shift is not yet welcome. Let's wait for the (almost) whole world to be Fiber-To-The-Home cabled, and then you'll see the first field trials popping up here and there (my take : US first ;-) to test those new fibers in some long-haul links.
Because when the World (almost) will be Fiber-To-The-Home cabled, the Optical Communications industry will need to create a new market to sustain its development. Considering that the actual long-haul/core networks infrastructures won't be able to carry the Internet traffic as it will be in 10 years - or even less - from now, new fibers are mandatory. If I had some money to spend on the Stock Market, I definitely would rate Corning as a "Buy"...