SubCableWorld (SCW), the submarine cable industry’s leading source of news and analysis, has published a submarine fiber optic industry report that forecasts continued market growth, on top of already historic highs, thanks in part to the latest generation of coherent transmission technology and Spatial Division Multiplexing (SDM).

The report, 2022 Submarine Fiber Optics Market, notes that the end of 2021 marked the eighth consecutive year of high demand for new submarine cables; an industry that traditionally witnesses 3-to-4-year boom-and-bust cycles. Not only is an eight-year boom period unprecedented, but three of these years (one being 2021) reached equally unprecedented levels of demand of over 100,000 kilometers of cable, based on contract awards and other supplier agreements announced during the year.

“Essentially, the global submarine fiber optics network is being rebuilt using the latest generation of coherent transmission technology and Spatial Division Multiplexing (SDM),” said John Manock, editor of SubCableWorld and author of the report.  “In addition, the market is being built out to, literally, reach the ends of the earth – from the Arctic to the Antarctic and from the Amazon Basin to some of the smallest and most remote islands of the Pacific.  This process will take years and demand is not likely to slow until this remaking of the network is largely completed.” 

The report, which has been published annually since 2006, takes an analytical approach using a well-developed model for measuring demand over long time periods. It also describes the forces driving and constraining the market and presents a five-year demand forecast. 

“It is difficult to present a positive long-term forecast for the submarine fiber optics market with still-fresh memories of the market’s collapse in 2002 following the last big boom period. But the world of 2022 is not the world of 2002,” Mr. Manock continued. “Things are very different now with insatiable Internet bandwidth demand and huge amounts of available investment capital. We’ve looked at the market in a dozen different ways, trying to find some metric to show that this boom period is coming to an end, but we haven’t found anything quantifiable as of yet. The boom will end at some point, but not soon, barring some extraordinary global event. And it would have to be truly extraordinary as even COVID-19 couldn’t slow the market down.”

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