Growth in mobile backhaul spurs demand for Gigabit Ethernet test equipment

High R&D investments, proving ROI and product pricing emerge as key industry challenges

The key factor driving the global gigabit Ethernet test equipment market is the need for extra bandwidth caused by a flood of video applications on smartphones that offer anywhere/anytime access. This trend is motivating carriers to change from synchronous technology over to Ethernet and is particularly visible in the mobile backhaul segment.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Global Gigabit Ethernet Test Equipment Market, finds that the market earned revenues of $719.7 million (€546m) in 2010 and estimates this to reach $1070.8 million (€813m) in 2015. The segments covered include the1 gigabit test equipment (1GbE), 10 gigabit test equipment (10GbE), and 40/100 gigabit test equipment markets (40/100GbE).

“The year 2010 witnessed an unprecedented demand for Ethernet test equipment in the mobile backhaul space, with the large-scale investments made by wireline service providers finally paying off,” notes analyst Prathima Bommakanti. “The mobile backhaul application market has now moved into the growth stage of the product lifecycle, with demand for circuit speeds varying at the cell sites.”

With the proliferation of bandwidth-hogging 3G/4G wireless devices, there has been an exponential growth in mobile backhaul traffic on service providers’ networks, thus pressuring mobile operators to evaluate cost-effective backhaul technologies.

The market is being driven by converged data and applications such as data, voice, audio, gaming, and social networking sites. According to the IEEE P802.3ba specification, 100G and 40G are well aligned with the projected need for more network bandwidth because of multiplay deployments.

“A positive trend for the market will be the increased requirement for monitoring and security that will impel the need for network analysis and hence gigabit Ethernet test equipment,” adds Bommakanti. “The rising demand for high-speed ports will also promote uptake levels.”

However, the need for high investments in R&D is posing a significant challenge to market expansion. Vendors are continuing to invest in R&D to stay ahead of their competitors even while keeping track of service providers’ infrastructure upgrades and new service enablement.

Proving ROI to end users will also pose a challenge. As technology improves and the functionality of test equipment increases, end users are becoming accustomed to purchasing test sets with greater capabilities across a range of technologies. Hence, market participants are focusing on offering future-proof investment by providing a cost-efficient model and a smooth upgrade path to 40/100G, which is even more expensive.

“Prices for test equipment have steadily fallen over the last few years even as end users have experienced a greater need to create efficiencies and reduce unnecessary expenditures. This has increased pressure on gigabit test equipment manufacturers to make available gigabit Ethernet test equipment with high functionality for lower prices.”

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