BCC Research forecasts a bright future for free-space optical communication

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The demand for free-space optical communication technology is expected to rise from $41.9 million in 2013 to $501.1 million in 2019,  representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 53.3 per cent over the next five years, according to market analysis from BCC Research.

By using infrared light instead of radio waves for data transmission, a free-space optics (FSO) system delivers lower-cost transmission compared to fibre-optic communication, for the obvious reason that there is no need to install cables. This technology is a cost-effective way to extend the reach of metro optical networks.

Rapid industrialisation and the rising demand by business utilities for high-speed communication are expected to boost the demand for free-space optical communication. Copper cables and associated technologies such as cable modems and Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) are common in existing networks, but they are not expected to satisfy bandwidth requirements in the coming years, leaving the door open for free-space optics.

Of all the applications for FSO systems, data transmission was the most widely used in 2014 with a share of 23.3 per cent, closely followed by disaster recovery with a share of 20.1 per cent. The fastest growing application over the next five years is expected to be in the healthcare facilities sector, with a CAGR of 54 per cent. Europe currently holds the largest market share in the global free-space optical communications market, followed by North America, then Asia-Pacific, and the rest of the world.

“The high capacity of free-space optical communication coupled with affordable prices will fuel its demand over the forecast period,” said BCC Research analyst, Sinha G. Gaurav. “Free-space optical communication technology is affected by atmospheric turbulences and temperature changes. This factor may restrain its demand, but technological developments will minimise this effect over the coming years.”

A full report on the market, 'Free-Space Optical Communications Technology: Global Markets', is available from BCC Research.

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