Week in research: APAC optical spending jumps 13.3%; FTTx helps speed European buildouts

Optical spending surges: Purchases of optical networking equipment, including WDM and SONET/SDH, rose 8 percent globally between Q3 and Q4 of 2011--from $3.4 billion to $3.6 billion, says Infonetics Research, and 13.3 percent in the Asia Pacific region. "Regional spending trends for optical network hardware were volatile in the final quarter of 2011, with North America down and the rest of the regions up sequentially, including a huge 63 percent gain in Latin America -- a region showing very positive long-term trends," notes Andrew Schmitt, directing analyst for optical at Infonetics. The overall optical network hardware market increased 9 percent in 2011, with WDM and ROADM spending chalking up huge gains of 22 percent and 36 percent respectively for the year. SONET/SDH did not fare well in full-year spending, shrinking 6 percent as carriers move away from legacy technologies. Huawei, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), and Ciena (Nasdaq: CIEN) all saw upticks in purchases. News release

Infonetics top optical vendors 2011

Videoconferencing race is neck-and-neck: Fourth-quarter action was fast and furious in the videoconferencing and telepresence equipment market as Polycom pulled ahead of Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) in the Asia-Pacific region, Synergy Research notes. Polycom revenues jumped 22 percent in the region in Q4 2011 and the provider gained a 32 percent market share for the full year, with Cisco reaching just 26 percent market share in the region. Globally, the videoconferencing equipment market grew 31 percent to $3 billion in revenues in 2011. Cisco still holds the lead in worldwide market share. News release

FTTH speeding along in Europe: Fiber to the Home/Business (FTTH/B) rollouts progressed at a rate of 41 percent in the European Union in 2011, the European FTTH Council reported on Wednesday. The EU+8 added more than 600,000 new subscribers last year to bring total subs to over 5.1 million, with nearly 28 million homes passed. Lithuania, Norway and Sweden hold the lead in the ranking of countries that have more than 1 percent household penetration, while Latvia and Turkey moved ahead of Italy. Interestingly, Spain, which was not included in the Council's ranking, surged 184 percent in FTTH/B growth last year. News release

Me Pete, me use pen: Silly eBay commercial aside, the tablet is starting to reign supreme in U.S. businesses, with the most common uses including note-taking, email, calendar management and presentations. Some 77 percent of employees cited email as a common business use, according to In-Stat. Despite the growth in tablet use, companies aren't necessarily paying for them or integrating them into their networks: only 22 percent of users surveyed said their companies paid for their tablets, and more than half of users believe they're not allowed to connect to the corporate network. News release

Hybrid fiber leads the way: With the popularity of IPTV on the rise in Europe, providers are looking more and more to a hybrid fiber solution. "The future of Europe, at least for the next 5 years, is going to be dominated by FTTx," said Oliver Johnson, CEO of Point Topic. "The cost of full fiber (FTTH) deployment, particularly the last mile, is prohibitive and so the industry and consumers need a stepping stone which is provided by hybrid solutions such as FTTx. FTTx provides a significant increase in bandwidth and an efficient use of existing infrastructure and allows the welcome continued amortization of costs." Hybrid fiber deployments in Europe rose 68.9 percent between Q3 2010 and Q3 2011, according to the Broadband Forum. News release