Free space optics is transforming the telecommunication communication industry by delivering enhanced speed and flexible network than broadband. Free-space optical technology uses propagation of light in free or vacuum space to transmit data wirelessly. High cost of physical connection and weather conditions has majorly affected the telecommunication performance in past. Extreme climatic conditions such as fog are one of the major barriers for the free space optics technology. During the time period of 1998 to 2006, over USD 400 million were invested to improve the telecommunication facilities during bad weather conditions. However, all the projects were unsuccessful to meet the quality standards for telecommunications operations. Equinix, Inc. which is a world’s largest IBX data center & collocation provider, partnered with Laser Light Communications to work on world’s first hybrid optical network “HALO” in October 2016. This partnership is targeting to provide seamless optical communication system and improve terrestrial fiber network which can bypass the atmospheric interference. These advancements in the telecommunication sector further boost the growth of global free space optics market.
In 2016, “SpaceDataHighway” a first dedicated laser terminal was launched by European Space Agency (ESA) for the future European Data Relay System (EDRS). SpaceDataHighway is capable of transferring high definition images with huge amount of data from space to terrestrial ground at high speed better than radio frequency links. Space research agencies are also collaborating together to implement free space optical communication (FSOC) technology for space and satellite communication. For instance, European Space Agency (ESA) and National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) are planning to use optical communication for data transmission to enhance telecommunication on earth. This high data will be initially transmitted to lower earth orbit from geosynchronous orbit (GEO). Federal space entities are also planning to set specific interoperability standards for the deployment of free space optics technology. The Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems (CCSDS) an international space industry is working on process and standards for signaling and computer networking. The robust advancement in telecommunication technology further propels the demand for enhanced and advanced devices in various end-use sectors.
Global free space optics market can be segmented on following basis:
• Based on Component
o Optics Software
• Based on Application
o Remote Monitoring
o Satellite Communications
o Mobile Backhaul
o Last Mile Access (Metro network extensions)
o Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) Services
o Others(Security, Disaster Recovery)
• Based on End-User
o Aerospace & Defense
o Healthcare Sector
o Transportation & Logistics
o Others (Energy & Resources)
Market Size and Forecast (2016-2024)
In 2005, over 85% shipments of free space optics products were deployed in last mile access application. Last mile access provides high bandwidth services at low cost which is increasing the demand of free space optics technology access in communication. Based on application, satellite and mobile backhaul segment is growing at a faster rate. As per the study performed in 2015 by California Institute of Technology mobile backhaul with the application of free space optics technology is cost-effective and 25 times more efficient than radio frequency backhauls. On the other hand, LEDs and photodiodes are the dominating market of free space optics in component segment. LEDs are preferred over LASERs as laser beam approaches have chances to damage human eyes. Thus usage of LEDs and photodiodes reduces the beam intensity which is harmless for human eyes. These factors are propelling the market growth of free space optics across the globe. The global free space optics market is expected to garner value of USD 1,200 Million by 2024 from USD 86.2 Million in 2016, growing at a CAGR of 38.9% during the forecast period of 2016-2024.
North America is the dominating region in global free space optics market followed by Europe. Early acceptance and wide implementation of free space technology is driving the market of free space optics in the region. Growing investment in research & development of satellite communication is expected to increase the demand for free space optics communication market in North America over the forecast period. North America region is expected to occupy more than 50% market share of global free space optics market and anticipated to reach value USD 0.60 billion by the end of 2024. Rising demand for free space optics devices in military applications is boosting the market in Europe region. Europe free space optics market valued USD 0.03 billion in 2016 and is estimated to reach value of USD 0.40 billion by 2024.
On the other hand, Asia-Pacific region is expected to witness notable growth in free space optics market due to huge investment in emerging economies such as India and China for improvement of infrastructures and implementation of free space optics technology for telecommunication industry. However, Asia-Pacific region is expected to occupy approximately 10% market share of global free space optics market during the forecast period of 2016 to 2024. Middle East & Africa region is projected to occupy nearly 8% market share of global free space optics market on the back of rapid advancement in telecommunication sector.
Market Drivers and Challenges
Upsurge need for high speed connectivity services raises the adoption rate of free space optics technology among internet service providers. Connectivity technologies such as 3G and 4G are using free space optics technology which has reduces the cost of internet connectivity. Low cost application is driving the market of free space optics. Growing usage of free space optics communication system in defense and healthcare sector is fostering the growth of free space optics market across the globe. Ease of deployment, resistance against electromagnetic interference, high bit rates with less or no errors and high security are some of the key factors which are giving technical advantage to free space optics communications and triggering the growth of global free space optics market.
Free space optics technology is a powerful alternative in telecommunications and computer networking field. However, terrestrial application of free space optics communication is facing limitations due to atmospheric and climatic conditions. Majorly due to fog and heavy rains, free space optics devices faces range limitation. Laser communication transmission provides reliable connection during unfavorable weather conditions. Lack of availability of devices with better photon efficiency and high rate of data is constraining the market expansion of free space optics.
- Ø High speed communication with long range data transmission is more in demand which can create new business scope for free space optics market players
Ø Multi beam approach can eliminate the impact of atmospheric interference and can improve quality of communication and computer networking
- Ø In 2013, MOSTCOM which is a manufacturer and supplier of wireless optical communications introduces an advanced wireless communication system which can improve the transmission range up to 2.5km with data speed rate of 10 Gb/s. However, designers have used radio frequency hybrid solution to achieve 99.99% data link transmission
Ø LightPointe Communications also offers radio frequency hybrid solutions similar to MOSTCOM
In 2016, Surrey Satellite Technology (SST) announced to provide secure data with low cost and low power laser technology from space to ground. SST is aiming to build a 1.5-kilo laser flight under 25 watts power which can provide faster downlink speeds on earth from space
Key Market Players
• LightPointe Communications, Inc.
Ø Business Strategy
Ø Product Portfolio
Ø SWOT Analysis
• fSONA Networks Corporation
• Trimble Hungary Ltd.
• Fujitsu Ltd.
• Laser Light Communications
• Panasonic Corporation
• Plaintree Systems Inc.
• Wireless Excellence Ltd.
• Vialight Communications Gmbh
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