Cloud and IoT generating explosive growth for fiber optics

Over the coming years, cloud computing and Internet of Things applications will create explosive growth for global data traffic. Market researchers are predicting that these applications will also mean a great need for fast and reliable fiber optic connectivity.

Take a look at these impressive figures: the market research bureau IDC says that within two years, 25.6 billion IoT devices will have gone live worldwide. These range from sensors for monitoring dike levels to smart traffic lights and cars with Internet connections. And that figure is likely to rise to at least 30 billion by 2020.

All of this IoT hardware is driving a sharp rise in data traffic. The American chipmaker Intel has even put a number on this, claiming that within three years, a smart factory will be able to generate 1,000,000 GB of data per day. According to Intel, a driverless car will send around 4,000 GB of data per day to cloud platforms over three years, while a ‘smart hospital’ will be responsible for 3,000 GB. To place all that in perspective: the average human Internet user will produce an average of 1.5 GB of data traffic per day.

In about three years’ time, part of this data communication will already be running via the first 5G networks. The successor to today’s 4G standard is expected to be in service for mobile data and voice communication from 2020. 5G offers low latency, coupled to higher speeds and lower power consumption. However, for all this to work, a fast and reliable ‘fixed’ network infrastructure will also be required – such as the one provided by fiber optic connections. In the United States various major operators, such as AT&T and Verizon, are already busy making all of their fixed network connections fiber optic so that they can be ‘5G-ready’.