Just a few days ago, the journal Science chronicled a group of researchers' efforts to measure seismic activity on the ocean floor, an effort that could help with tsunami warning systems and explorations of the earthís interior. Through their research, seismologists discovered the global network of seafloor fiber optic cables -- which already carry Internet traffic between continents -- can sense even minute changes in motion and act as underwater earthquake detectors.
Fiber optics already delivers the fastest, most reliable Internet connections, making communities healthier, more robust and economically viable. This relatively new use of fiber as a "sensing" technology is poised to have even more profound effects for the health and safety of our communities, not to mention the economy.
Fiber optic sensing works by measuring changes in the "backscattering" of light in a fiber cable, which happens when the fiber undergoes a vibration, a strain or a change in temperature. In effect, the fiber optic cable acts as a hyper-sensitive trip wire, with attached electronics sending pulses of light to be disrupted whenever something changes in the atmosphere.
The applications of this technology are as varied as they are potentially game changing for many industries.
Organizations or governments can deploy fiber optic sensing technology over great distances and places where itís difficult -- or dangerous -- for humans to physically watch over assets and infrastructure. A single fiber optic cable can cover hundreds of miles of roadways, pipelines or borders. And because it works at the speed of light, these sensors can alert watchers to issues before they become costly and dangerous problems.
"Distributed fiber optic sensing technology," Mike Hines, chairman of the Fiber Optic Sensing Association (FOSA) said, "is an exciting innovation and essential tool for enhancing efficiency and safety by monitoring vehicular movement, human foot traffic, critical infrastructure and perimeters over great distances, and much more."
From construction to transit to crisis mitigation, fiber sensing provides value across a range of projects and sectors, protecting our environment, our infrastructure, critical facilities and our borders. And many industries are taking notice: Distributed fiber optic sensor market revenue in the United States has increased every year since 2014. This yearís expected revenue is $188 million, up 31% from 2014. That growth is only expected to increase: by 2025, revenue is predicted to surge 75.9%, reaching $418 million, according to Statista.
Plugging Into Fiber's Powers
But while progress in the US is good, the nation risks being outstripped by other countries in its implementation of this nascent innovation. Recently, the Fiber Optic Sensing Association researched deployments of fiber optic sensing technologies around the world. Looking at more than 75 countries and just over 1,300 deployments, it found China had more deployments than any other nation with roughly 11.3% of all identified installations, followed closely by Germany at 9.4%. The US came in third with roughly 6.5%, and South Korea was fourth with 4.8% of installations.
This advanced technology can improve public safety, protect the environment, secure critical facilities, make public infrastructure safer and more efficient, encourage economic growth and create jobs. Government and industry can work together to make that happen by recognizing opportunities to promote the use of this technology (as appropriate) and encouraging such innovation.
The opportunities are ripe.
For example, in 2011 and 2016, Congress directed the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to develop standards for pipeline leak detection technology and pursue other actions designed to enhance pipeline safety in the US. In developing nations, many pipeline operators now routinely include fiber optic sensing in new construction to provide warnings of hot tapping, digging and seismic conditions. Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Tunisia and Turkey are all home to pipelines running hundreds of miles, all protected by fiber optic sensing. Several American companies have followed suit. These pipeline operators -- and the technology companies supporting them -- need regulators to set clear performance-based leak standards so they can deploy the right technology in the right way.
As with broadband Internet delivery, fiber optics are poised to completely change our ways of doing many other things. I canít wait to see whatís next.
Businesses want to buy in to the increasingly popular and lucrative online world of e-sports, where people compete live from their homes in video games that demand ultra-fast, symmetrical access with low latency and high quality of service.
In this month's blog, Fiber Broadband Association President and CEO Lisa Youngers shares the one common thread holding together all CES and 5G technologies Ė from smart toilets and baby monitors to next-gen communications solutions and AI.
Fiber Broadband Association President Lisa Younger's new neighbor Amazon isn't the only one demanding high-speed fiber infrastructure as a prerequisite for anywhere it calls home (or HQ2), she writes in her newest blog. After all, the numbers don't add up any other way.
During the recent midterms, candidates from both side of the political aisle recognized the importance their constituents placed on broadband, writes Heather Gold, board member and former president of Fiber Broadband Association.
As Vice President of Global Healthcare at AT&T, Maria Lensing oversees the telecommunications operator's technology and professional services offerings across the spectrum of medical providers, from solo practitioners and walk-in clinics to giant hospital chains, medical-device vendors and consulting firms. Lensing also sees more interest from traditional service providers -- cable and telecom operators looking to expand or build relationships with their own medical communities, perhaps as an adjunct to smart-home successes or standalone.
Lensing, who took on this role almost a year ago in May 2018, oversees both the sales and technical teams responsible for developing growth initiatives for AT&T's Global Healthcare business -- including products, services and industry-specific solutions. She also very actively promotes business minority inclusion, education and female empowerment programs and has been recognized both within and outside AT&T. Some awards she's received include "Top 40 Under 40" and "Super Woman in Business" from the Memphis Business Journal.
Join Maria Lensing, VP of Global Healthcare at AT&T, on Tuesday, April 23 at 12:00 p.m. ET / 9:00 p.m. PT, when she's the guest on BBWN Radio, hosted by Broadband World News Editor Alison Diana. Register now!
So far, the agenda includes a discussion of technologies such as fiber and 5G; defining the needs and solutions for a widely diverse range of customers; partnering for success in a typically slow-moving, budget-constrained market; learning and dispersing best practices from other verticals and within other business groups; promoting diversity and female empowerment when so many say they're doing so but so little has changed; and what she hopes to accomplish in another year in this role.
Register and post your questions for Maria on BBWN Radio's easy-to-use chat board. We will get to as many questions as possible. Please post questions before and during the broadcast. Once you've registered, you will be led to the chat board page. Talk to you on April 23!
Tune in to Broadband World News Radio on February 14 at 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT / 4 p.m. UK when John Isch, Practice Director of the Network and Voice Center of Excellence at Orange Business Services, discusses use cases, ROI and misconceptions of software-defined wide-area networks, virtualization and cloud.
Just when you thought the answer to your next technology direction question was clear, the noise around multiple new technology options fills the Internet and airwaves. Multiple 5Gs are being deployed; there's CableLabs' 10G initiative; the ITU and IEEE are toiling around 50G PON Ė and we havenít even talked about Wi-Fi6 yet! Is any of this real, do you have to pay attention or can you just let the dust settle and then decide?
Since waiting is often not the best option, letís demystify technology options, their impact on your business, and how to prepare for whatever the future brings.
In this webinar, Service Providers will learn:
Current state of 5G and how it affects everyone, not only mobile network providers.
Latest technologies being developed and how they will benefit their networks and subscribers.
How to prepare their networks for the future Ė whatever it may hold.