Asia Pacific users moving towards fiber cabling

A study by Systimax Solutions says fiber optic is growing in popularity in APAC but the expense still hinders deployment

Interest towards deploying fiber optic cabling is high among Asia Pacific companies, according to an ongoing study by cabling infrastructure provider Systimax Solutions, indicating the adoption of bandwidth-intensive applications in the region.

The study polled around 1,500 IT managers across 45 countries, about 25 percent of respondents coming from Asia Pacific. Systimax presented preliminary findings of the study during a briefing held in its manufacturing facility located here.

"There is a severe lack of industry data on cabling," said Fiona Nolan, global marketing director for CommScope Solutions, parent company of Systimax. The full report will be released early 2007.

Cabling is generally regarded as the lowest-cost component in networking, having a longer upgrade cycle compared to other components such as switches, PCs and other hardware.

But as bandwidth increases exponentially and industries become heavily-dependent on the Internet, structured cabling vendors like Systimax are counting on users to re-invest in cabling to accommodate next-generation enterprise applications and deliver communications services such as "triple play" (video, voice and data) .

According to the study, nearly half (44 percent) of existing fiber cabling installations run on the first-generation OM1 multimode fiber but almost the same percentage among the survey's respondents indicate plans to migrate to the more advanced OM3 multimode fiber for new installations.

OM3 supports the 10gigabit per second (or 10G) Ethernet standard.

Asia Pacific users, however, lag behind in the adoption of latest standards in traditional copper cabling. According to the study, Asia Pacific is behind in the global adoption rate for Category 6A or Cat6A, a recently-ratified standard that supports 10G.

Based on the study, at least half (53 percent) of existing copper cabling installations are running on Cat5e, although users expressed willingness to advance towards Cat6 for new installations.

"This could mean that the delay in technology adoption is hindering business for Asia Pacific users," said Nolan, noting that lower-end cabling systems may contribute to downtime.

It can be a problem of awareness. According to the study, almost 40 percent of IT managers from Asia Pacific are not aware of the 10GBase-T standard, ratified last June by the IEEE, for 10G compatible devices.

Moreover, the study's preliminary findings suggest that initial cost is more significant for Asia Pacific users than other key issues such as technical performance and brand reputation.

"These companies should put a lot more focus on TCO (total cost of ownership)," Nolan said, referring to Asia Pacific. "Maybe further education is needed on the value of cabling on enterprise networks."

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