Member News - March 2020

Industry Member News

24 March, 2020

Read about Optical Fiber's 50th Anniversary, 2020's Market Outlook, the U.S. Brightest Light Initiative, Advocacy, Special Events, New Reports and Other Noteworthy News, Opinions & Opportunities

OSA Corporate Member Newsletter

In this Issue:

Happy 50th Anniversary of Optical Fiber

Optical fiber and the semiconductor laser turn 50 years old this year! The combination launched the field of optical communications, and we're celebrating at OFC 2020 in San Diego this month, including some special events (here). With the addition of the optical amplifier and other developments, optical fiber communications reduced the cost of long-distance communications so that we can now access international networks from a pocket phone at an affordable monthly cost, something unimaginable a few decades ago.

Particularly remarkable is the enormous rate of installation of new fiber. The chart below shows new installations of fiber by region, from Richard Mack, recently retired from CRU International, and at KMI Research prior to that. The new installations in 2018 exceeded the cumulative installation of fiber for the first 23 years recorded in the chart, from 1980 through 2002. Think of that: the world is installing fiber at five times the rate it did in the Telecom Bubble.

Source: CRU International (2019), with permission.

The compound growth rate through the 39-year period amounts to 23% per year. For those who like log charts (below), the rate is clearly slowing, and showed a rare decline in 2019, the only one other than 2002. Cabled fiber is not a consumable product, it is a capital investment, and fortunately there are still many reasons for investing in new fiber: access to new 5G microcells, new and upgraded data centers, continued expansion of fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), and expansion into underserved countries.

Source: CRU International (2019), with permission.

The revenues don't track this phenomenal growth, because unit prices also fell dramatically through the period. Almost two decades ago, at less than pennies per meter, Richard noted that optical fiber was less expensive than kite string and fishing line. And tellingly, optical fiber forecast business is now managed by CRU International, which specializes in commodity metals and copper cable. But the falling prices enabled much of the network expansion and the "Over the Top" players who followed, such as Netflix, Google and Facebook. The chart below shows the prices for bare and cabled G.652 fiber from 1983 to 2019, with steady price erosion through nearly 40 years of about 10% per year, compounded.

Source: CRU International (2019), with permission.

Revenues have grown to about US$ 14 billion per year, but the business cycles are more dramatic than the fluctuations in prices or installations. OIDA roughtly estimates that the compounded annual growth rate over the period 1980-2019 was about 8-9%. For comparison, the S&P 500 U.S. stock market index grew at about the same rate, and both grew about 3% faster than global GDP during the same period.

If you have quantitative information on the early years of the optical fiber market, please contact Tom Hausken at


Market Outlook for 2020: Flat Sales

OIDA is expecting flat sales in the optics and photonics market in 2020, following a slight decline in 2019 of about 2%, to US$ 463 billion. The 2019 results are an estimate as of this writing, as we wait for companies to report Q4 results, and it’s still early for the 2020 forecast, as we wait to see the impact of the COVID-19 virus. If a revision is necessary, it’s likely to be downward, not upward. But we can hope, right?

Source: OIDA (2020).

This OIDA forecast contrasts dramatically with upbeat, bullish forecasts announced last month. We won't name names, but one of them expects 11.5% growth in the laser market. Another expects 7.9% growth for optics and photonics components, similar to past performance it claims. Why would the OIDA estimate and forecast be so different?

We can't speak for others' methodology and data, only for ours. First, we look across all the global sectors of optics and photonics, from displays and image sensors to scientific instruments. Second, we take care that adding or subtracting companies (or mergers and spinoffs) affect the interpretation of the data as little as possible. We could boost growth by adding companies to the database, but that wouldn't provide an accurate picture.

Last year saw slowing economic growth in China, a major trade conflict between it and the U.S. and a recession in manufacturing in the U.S. Even if 2018 was a record year, the major laser suppliers saw declining sales in 2019. And there is little to suggest that pent-up demand will burst forth in 2020. If anything, the slowdown from the coronavirus will push a recovery into 2021.

There are many smaller U.S. companies that are not highly exposed to Chinese exports, who are doing well, and are right to be upbeat. But let's be honest, maybe there is another reason for the upbeat forecasts: it's not fun forecasting flat sales, especially at the beginning of the year when hope is young. But if that's where the data leads, that's where we have to go.

We'll keep you updated. Your thoughts? Share them, at


The U.S. Brightest Light Initiative Moves Forward

The Brightest Light Initiative has completed its report on its workshop regarding the future of intense ultrafast lasers in the U.S. The workshop was held 27-29 March 2019 at OSA headquarters, in Washington DC. The initiative was created in response to the 2017 U.S. National Academies report, Opportunities in Intense Ultrafast Lasers, which first noted the potential science and technology reach that new U.S. facilities could have, and also that the global community had far surpassed the U.S. in this area of research and development. The figure below shows the intense laser labs worldwide, in 2019.

Source: International Committee on Ultra-High Intensity Lasers, here.

The workshop report makes seven recommendations, including

  • establishing a national laser research program;
  • developing an open-access user facility with beamlines at 10-100 PW peak powers;
  • developing short-pulse, high peak power lasers with very high average powers (kilowatts and beyond);
  • developing lasers at the Linac Coherent Light Source x-ray laser facility at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University;
  • expanding the scope and capabilities of LaserNetUS, a network of U.S. high-power laser facilities.

The report (available here) will be followed by an extended community coordination and advocacy effort to build up U.S. government programs for the technology. The workshop report was supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, two agencies of U.S. Department of Energy and the National Photonics Initiative (NPI). OSA is a founding partner of the NPI, alongside SPIE. For more information, please contact David Lang, Senior Director of Government Relations, at See also our update in the October 2019 OIDA Newsletter, and a September article in OSA's Optics & Photonics News, here.


Welcome New OIDA Members








The Countdown to OIDA Executive Forum at OFC is On….Final Chance to Register and Attend
9 March, Co-located with OFC, San Diego, CA, USA

This opportunity comes only once a year. Join industry leaders on 9 March and discuss critical technology advancements and business opportunities that will shape the network and your company.

Attend four panel presentations and a Keynote Presentation by Elizabeth Rivera Hartling from Facebook. Keep current on the service provider landscape, network automation, how 5G and other trends will drive fiber optic expansion and edge computing, the next big things like AI, cloud gaming and AR/VR—and more! A special Fireside Chat features a panel of executives from across the optical network supply chain providing their unique perspectives on a broad range of industry issues.

View the program.

Speakers include:

Keynote Speaker:
Elizabeth Rivera Hartling

Subsea Optical Network Architect, Facebook

Mattias Fridström
Vice President & Chief Evangelist, Telia Carrier

David F. Welch
Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Infinera

Hwa-Jung Han
Director of Emerging Technology, Verizon

View all the speakers.

Register now to attend OIDA Executive Forum — the premier event for leaders in optical networking and communications. Special savings are available to OIDA members. Exclusive for OIDA Members: Buy 1 discounted registration and bring a customer or colleague for free!


Attend an Industry Session on Quantum Communication and the Market Potential of Quantum Technologies at OFC
Tuesday, 10 March, 16:15 — 17:00, OFC Exhibit Hall, Theater I

OIDA will preview findings from its upcoming roadmap on quantum photonics, and host a panel discussion on market opportunities at a special show floor session at OFC. The report, prepared by Newry Corporation, addresses challenges, opportunities and market potential for photonic technologies for applications in quantum communication, quantum computing and quantum sensing. OIDA, the premier provider of trusted intelligence for the photonics industry, will release the roadmap to the public on 20 April. However, OIDA Members will get an exclusive opportunity to download OIDA Quantum Photonics Roadmap: Every Photon Counts on 10 March.

In partnership with


RSVP for OIDA Member Benefit Orientation on 18 March

RSVP for OIDA's member benefit overview orientation on 18 March at 13:00. This is an opportunity to learn more about key membership benefits you and your company should be taking advantage of and explore how to maximize performance and grow your business.

Whether you have been an active member for years and need a quick refresh or are transitioning to the new OIDA membership model — this orientation is a must-attend! Please feel free to share this with your colleagues. When you join OIDA, everyone at your organization becomes a member.


Submit Your Research by 18 March to Present at Applied Industrial Optics Meeting in Washington, DC
20-22 July 2020, OSA Headquarters, Washington, District of Columbia United States

Presenting at the OSA Applied Industrial Optics Topical Meeting (AIO) provides the opportunity to showcase your work to leaders in your field, and to expand your network of professional connections. AIO grants unprecedented access to industry experts and insight into today's commercial climate. It offers a unique atmosphere that is both informative and interactive, providing a forum for photonics leaders to meet, collaborate, and innovate.

Topics include: Laser and laser applications, autonomous vehicles and robotics, optics and energy, remote sensing, optical sensors and sensor systems and biophotonics.

When you present at AIO you'll join an impressive lineup of invited speakers.

Plenary Speaker: Michael Oshetski
Founder and CEO, Micatu, Inc.

View all the invited speakers. Learn more about the meeting. Submit your research for consideration by 18 March 2020. Exhibit and sponsorship opportunities are also available for this meeting.


New OIDA Optical Communications Market Update Report is Now Available

Highlights in this OIDA Market Update

Optical communications:

  • Service provider revenues
  • Capital spending
  • Regional trends

Download the report.

OIDA reports are available to all employees of OIDA member companies who have chosen the Market Intelligence & Advocacy membership category. We encourage you to browse the Publications & Reports Center to see everything available to you!


Gain Recognition for Your Engineering Team

Nominations for the Paul F. Forman Team Engineering Excellence Award are due 10 April. This is a great opportunity to highlight the value and importance of engineering teams! The award recognizes technical achievements such as product engineering, process and software development, and patent development, as well as contributions to society such as furthering public appreciation of optical engineering. Recipients receive: Special recognition in OPN; dedicated press release & social media posts; recognition during Frontier’s in Optics (FiO); participation in the FiO Awards Ceremony & Reception; and recognition in trade magazines, journals & conference publications.


OFC Career Zone is Live — Employers and Job Seekers Create Your Account Now

The OFC Career Zone is where job seekers and employers from all areas of optical communications connect. Check out the OFC Career Zone Online and create your account today!

Be sure to also participate in our Onsite OFC Career Zone Live at OFC, San Diego Convention Center, 10-12 March 2020.

Questions: contact or +1.202.416.1942


OFC Grants for First Time Women Attendees

Supporting increased diversity is a shared goal of the OFC community and for the third year the OFC 2020 co-sponsors are offering waived full technical registrations for up to 75 first time women attendees. If you know of someone who fits this criteria I encourage you to forward them the details and application form. See restrictions, get additional details, and apply here.


Family Care Grants at OFC

Grants of up to four hundred dollars (US$ 400) per family are available to OFC attendees who need care for a family member onsite or who incur extra expenses leaving dependents at home (e.g., extra day care, babysitting services, elder care etc). Get more information and apply here.


The Suzanne R. Nagel Lounge (Booth #2739 at OFC)

Named in honor of the first woman chair of OFC, Suzanne R. Nagel, this inclusive, networking space celebrates diversity while offering attendees the opportunity to discuss trending topics in the field, meet colleagues and explore new business opportunities. We will also be offering complementary headshots for anyone interested. Note: On Wednesday and Thursday we will be opening at 9 for exhibitors interested in updating their headshot before the show opens. Check for the latest list of speakers and additional details.


Invitation to Join the OIDA Optics and Photonics Industry LinkedIn Group

Join 3,000+ of your colleagues in our OIDA Optics & Photonics Industry Network LinkedIn Group. This one-of-a-kind Forum for Industry lets you participate in discussions about cutting-edge issues. Extend your professional network. Exchange information about problems, ideas and solutions. Collaborate with experts in your field. Now is the perfect time to build a relationship with fellow optics and photonics professionals!


Link Now...


OIDA (OSA Industry Development Associates) Council
Thank you to the volunteers who oversee the programs and services available to the Industry Community.

  • Simin Cai,
    Go!Foton, Chair
  • Claudio Mazzali,
    Corning Research &
    Development Corp, Past Chair
  • John Dexheimer,
    LightWave Advisors, Inc.
  • Turan Erdogan,
    Plymouth Grating
    Laboratory, Inc.
  • Amy Eskilson,
    Inrad Optics
  • Christoph S. Harder,
  • Anjul Loiacono,
    Thorlabs Inc.
  • Debbie Wilson,
    Lumentum Operations Inc.


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