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Copper to continue to dominate structured cabling systems market, FTM study finds

According to Frank Murawski, founder of FTM Consulting Inc., it has been expected for some time that fiber cab...

October 7, 2009  

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According to Frank Murawski, founder of FTM Consulting Inc., it has been expected for some time that fiber cabling would displace or at least make inroads on copper.


Fiber cabling’s superior performance (bandwidth) would be needed in place of copper cabling’s limited performance. Every time, the market has increased its requirements, from 1 Mbps, to 10 Mbps, to 100 Mbps, to 1 Gbps and now to 10 Gbps, he adds, it was expected that fiber cabling would be needed.


But every time, copper cabling has increased its performance to satisfy the higher bandwidth requirements. At the same time, fiber cabling has not only increased its performance levels, but has also decreased its price, with new technology innovations, such as less costly VCSELs.


“At one time, fiber-to-the-desk (FTTD) was the holy grail of fiber cabling,” he says. “This also has been a false start, as FTTD has evolved to a niche application not required in most of the enterprises’ networks. The question is what happens next?


“Copper cabling, presumably, has reached its limit, at support of 10 Gbps over 100 meters. At the same time, fiber cabling has continued to increase its performance, with OM 3 fibers supporting 10 Gbps for 300 meters and with newer technology OM 4 fibers promising even higher performance for support of future 40 and 100 Gbps over extended distances.”


Murawski recently completed a study examining these developments and has released the findings in a new study: “Fiber vs. Copper Battle for the Cabling Systems Market.” In it, the individual cabling applications, such as LANs, data centres, VOIP and others were individually analyzed and forecast. The aggregate of these applications provides a bottoms-up analysis of the fiber vs. copper issue.


Copper, at a 76.6% share of the market in 2009, is expected to increase its share to 79.1% by 2014.


“Our analysis indicates that fiber cabling will increasingly be used in data center applications and remain the backbone mainstay for the enterprise’s core network,” Murawski said.


“At the same time, copper cabling will continue to be the dominant cabling used in horizontal LAN cabling applications. More importantly, in the future, VOIP implementation will rely on an abundance of copper cabling. The imbalance of the limited distance requirements in data center fiber applications is more than offset by the longer distance requirements for VOIP copper cabling, resulting in copper’s continued dominance of the market.”

Further information on the study is available at