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Passive Optical Fiber To Grow 310 Percent By 2008

The race by worldwide telecommunications carriers to roll out passive optical network (PON) fiber is creating a boom in the market with shipments jumping 310 percent from $525 million in 2004 to $2.2 billion in 2008, according to a report from Infonetics Research.

While the rollout of PON in Asia continues to be the strongest, U.S. carriers are picking up speed rapidly. Japan's NTT is leading the market currently and in the U.S. both Verizon Communications is using PON in its fiber deployment.

"The biggest player in the world right now is NTT," said Michael Howard, Infonetics principal analyst, in an interview. "Asia got 92 percent of passive optical network sales last year."

There are several different versions of fiber being deployed and Howard noted that Verizon is installing Fiber to the Premises (FTTP) directly into homes and SBC is installing Fiber to the Node (FTTN). SBC is not using PON in its deployment, he noted. "It's going to take Verizon a lot longer for FTTP," Howard said. "It's much quicker for SBC to roll out fiber to the node."

FTTP stretches directly into homes while FTTN reaches near homes, typically serving 400 to 600 homes, which are connected over existing copper lines. Verizon is faced with a more difficult task and expects its fiber to reach 3 million homes this year while SBC's easier-to-install FTTN, is expected to serve 18 million homes in 2007, Howard said.

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