The worldwide consumption of planar lightwave circuit (PLC) splitters reached $789 million in 2016, up 13.4 per cent from 2015, according to the latest report from market and technology consultancy ElectroniCast Consultants.
PLC splitters distribute optical signals from a single fibre-optic input port to multiple output ports. This is a particularly important function when deploying optical fibre closer to the subscriber, by allowing a single passive optical network (PON) line terminal interface to be shared among many subscribers. Their main application are in fibre to the home (FTTH) and cable TV networks.
ElectroniCast’s 10-year market review and forecast quantifies the number of PLC splitter chips used in PLC splitter devices and the factory-installed or fabricated PLC splitter modules and enclosures made from them. The report also estimates the quantities of PLC splitter chips consumed in integrated devices.
“There are several piece-parts that are needed to produce a typical PLC splitter, such as one to two input optical fibres with an input fibre containment unit, a planar (splitter) chip, a fibre array containment unit, and several output optical fibres, as well as the housing/exterior package,” explained Stephen Montgomery, Director of the Fiber Optics Group at ElectroniCast Consultants.
PLC splitters are available in several configurations; the report provides market data on 11 separate configurations for the years 2016–2026. The 1x4 split configuration dominated the market in 2016; however, the higher split-ratios, such as the 1x16, 1x32, 2x16, and 2x32 are forecast with much faster annual growth, Montgomery added. This change reflects the trend towards higher splitting ratios in PON deployments.