Sales of optical transceivers declined “just” 3% in 2018, according to LightCounting. The market research firm said the small decline was a positive result, considering the volatility the market experienced last year, with demand from telecom and datacom sources “out of phase.” The year-end results are contained in LightCounting’s most recent “Quarterly Market Update” report.
Telecom demand was down while datacom module demand, particularly Ethernet optics, was up in the first half of the year, LightCounting points out. The two markets switched direction in the second half, however (see chart above). Meanwhile, sales of wavelength-selective switch (WSS) modules, EDFAs, pump lasers, and passive components, not included in the above chart, were strong all year. As these products tend to be used early in network deployments, LightCounting takes the strong demand for such devices as a good sign for telecom optical transceiver demand in 2019. For example, 25G optical transceivers for 5G mobile sold well in 2018, a trend LightCounting expects to continue this year.
On the datacom front, positive signs for 2019 include Google’s recently announced plans to spend $13 billion on data center construction this year (see “Google to spend $13 billion in 2019 for U.S. data centers, offices”). Facebook’s newly announced F16 data center network design also implies an increase in demand for 100 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity as well, LightCounting believes.
The “Quarterly Market Update” (QMU) report includes performance metrics and commentary for top-tier telecom and internet service providers, network and datacom equipment makers, and optical component and semiconductor IC vendors. Data on quarterly shipments and pricing of more than 100 categories of optical transceivers, AOCs, EOMs, and WSS modules is included in the QMU database released along with the report.