FSO, an emerging technology will grow from its current nascent state to a strong niche player within three years. FSO equipment currently is being deployed for a variety of applications, such as last-mile connections to buildings, which may provide the greatest opportunity since FSO provides the high-speed links that customers need without the costs of laying fiber to the end user. In 2005, last-mile access will represent over two-thirds of the total FSO equipment market.
Currently, the increase in high-bandwidth applications at the edge of the network, coupled with the lack of a high-speed infrastructure connecting the edge to the core, has turned the threat of a connectivity bottleneck into reality affecting the end-users, service providers who face delays in laying fiber and building optical infrastructure, resulting in incomplete networks, lack of revenue and increased competition. FSO allows them to provide this optical connectivity cost effectively, quickly and reliably. Such flexibility makes FSO systems an extremely attractive method for service providers to truly solve the connectivity bottleneck.
Free-Space Optics communication systems are among the most secure networking transmission technologies. Unlike microwave systems, it is extremely difficult to intercept the FSO light beam carrying networking data because the information is not spread out in space but rather kept in a very narrow cone of light. To intercept this invisible light beam, the intruder must be able to obtain direct access to the light beam. Despite its potential, FSO still has many hurdles to overcome before it will be deployed widely. Carriers, like Allied Riser and XO Communications, may use FSO in conjunction with other technologies to expand their current networks while others, such as Terabeam.
Because of high availability, bandwidth scalability, and deployment simplicity, Free-Space Optics has emerged as a solution and deployment option in the deployment of next-generation wireless networks. As a result of its worldwide license-free operation, combined with a multitude of applications, FSO is providing an attractive and cost-effective option for network planners concerned about fast and reliable network builds, and executives concerned about faster paths to profitability.
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