Monday, April 24, 2006

Ready For The Next Telecom Boom?

As the technology bubble of the 1990's came crashing down, one of the after effects was a glut of telecommunications capacity, especially unlit fiber optic cables. Speculators had buried thousands upon thousands of miles of multi-fiber cable in the ground and undersea. It was installed under the assumption that demand for bandwidth was going to outstrip supply so fast that any installed capacity would be an instant money maker.

Instead, most of those glass strands lay dark for years. It wasn't just overspeculation in telecommunication facilities that suddenly met its end. The entire technology sector took a deep hit. Venture capital dried up and the new applications that were expected to drive the need for geometric increases in bandwidth never materialized.

The last five or six years have been something of a "dark" ages for the telecom industry in more ways than one. But the buried treasure of unused fiber optic capacity hasn't been forgotten. It's now being rediscovered and put to good use. You might say the treasure is being dug up, optically if not literally.

Municipalities, such as my own home town of Rockford, IL, have realized that the dark fiber rings through their commercial and industrial areas are now needed to support the next generation of business practices and provide wireless Internet access for the community. Hospitals and medical centers are developing an almost insatiable thirst for bandwidth to support electronic medical records and radiology image transmission. Electronic design automation is creating a similar need in engineering and manufacturing. CAD systems that originally took over the job of drafting boards are now dispensing with the printers and plotters in favor of electronically distributing drawings, parts lists, circuit board layouts, logic chip programming and simulations of all types. Products are assembled and tested virtually before any parts are produced physically.

Small businesses are experiencing new needs for digital bandwidth that they never had before. Franchises and field offices are tied together with virtual private networks and point of sale systems that keep the home office appraised of how things are going on a daily, if not real time basis. Ordering and restocking of retail locations is moving to a background activity. Whatever bandwidth a restaurant doesn't need for its own operations is given away to customers in the way of WiFi Internet access.

The end result is that the original glut in telecommunication capacity has been getting used up to the point where new capacity is actually in the works. The research firm Telegeography is reporting that network operators are running out of lit bandwidth capacity on undersea cables and are bringing up additional wavelengths and fiber pairs. At some point those big cable laying ships will be likely be leaving port again, although probably not soon. There is still untapped potential in dark fiber, especially with newer multiplexing electronics.

What does this mean for your business? Right now is actually a good time to be installing or upgrading your telecom capability, be it expanded telephone lines, a move to VoIP telephony, private lines and virtual private networks to interconnect your business locations, or high reliability dedicated Internet connections. The competition among carriers is still strong so you can lock in excellent contractual pricing for the next 1 to 3 years. If you would like to explore options for your business needs, our technical and pricing experts stand ready to assist. Simply enter a brief request for quotes or consultation, or call the toll free number posted at T1 Rex.

Click to check pricing and features or get support from a Telarus product specialist.

Follow Telexplainer on Twitter