On October 26th, CRU held a roundtable discussion during the World Optical Fibre & Cable Conference. The three global giants of the optical fibre and cable industry — YOFC, Corning, and Prysmian Group, all engaged in an in-depth discussion regarding how they responded to COVID-19 pandemic, and the opportunities and challenges presented to the industry.
Philippe Vanhille (Executive Vice President Telecom Prysmian Group) said household network traffic has skyrocketed due to the pandemic, which has also prompted increased optical fibre construction for the home. Rural and suburban broadband projects, government encouragement, and sustainable development across the globe have all led to a higher demand for network connections. Moreover, the challenges presented by network deployment can only be met with higher-quality optical fibre.
Bernhard Deutsch (Corning Vice President and General Manager, Optical Fibre and Cable) stated that with the emergence of video chat, VR, and other services, the demand for higher bandwidth has seen an increase. In China, network capacity demands are growing as well due to construction of the 5G network. The demand for fibres and cables in other countries and regions is bound to rise too. As globalization continues to evolve, Corning will adapt to global developments.
Zhuang Dan, YOFC's Executive Director and President, said that new economic models, including online education, remote working, and telemedicine, have emerged overnight, reflecting the huge demands of society for new infrastructures such as 5G and big data. Meanwhile, as 5G ushers in its golden era, and the epidemic highlights the market demand for bandwidth upgrades, the optical fibre and cable market is expected to rebound. F5G construction in China is in full swing. There is already a consensus that F5G and 5G need coordinated development to empower different industries and create opportunities for optical fibre and cable industry.
Known as a grand annual gathering of the world's telecommunications and fibre and cable sectors, the World Optical Fibre & Cable Conference brought together senior telecommunication network executives, fibre and cable manufacturing representatives, technical specialists etc., to share their opinions on future opportunities and challenges, as well as innovation cases in the optical fibre and cable industry. They also discussed how to recover from the pandemic and speed up industry development.
Michael Finch (Head of CRU's Wire and Cable team) said that 2020 would be an unforgettable year. The way people live and work has changed drastically, and optical fibre networks have played a vital role in this change. Currently, the global optical fibre and cable industry is recovering step by step. Acquisitions and restructuring will probably occur across the entire industry. It is estimated that by 2021, the pandemic will have been brought under control and the global economy will have bounced back. The fixed network of operators will be back on track, along with the construction of 5G. Global demand for fibre and cables will see a growth of 7%. In the meantime, driven by optical fibre networks, there will still be a demand in the following years.
Eric Festraets (Fixed Networks Strategic Marketing Director at Nokia and President of FTTH Council Europe) said that due to the pandemic, there is an expanding demand for household entertainment, video games, and so on. Optical fibre will remain the connective tissue that will empower smart society. Optical fibre networks feature high-speed, large capacities and low latency, so they can satisfy network demands in the age of 5G, and help move forward the development intelligent buildings and smart cities. Considering the pandemic impact, the number of FTTH/B users in 28 European countries is expected to increase 14% by 2026 if the process is well underway.