The cabling market is likely to see a major change in the coming years due to growing awareness of the practical benefits offered by passive optical LAN technology.
This is according to the Association for Passive Optical LAN (APOLAN), which recently carried out a survey to shed light on the gathering momentum behind this new approach to network design, which is becoming an increasingly popular trend in the context of rising demand for persistent connectivity.
In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the direction of devices that are always online, thus helping to usher in the era of the Internet of Things. According to the APOLAN survey, this is leading to a shift in priorities among enterprises, which are now seeing advantages to POL networks that are unmatched by traditional copper-based infrastructure.
The most prominent benefits highlighted by survey respondents include the tangible contributions POL networks make to environmental and sustainability initiatives. This is due to their lack of power consumption, minimal heating, ventilation and air conditioning needs, and reduced equipment load. This also means they take up less space, with minimal cumbersome cabling or connected power systems.
The straightforward nature of POL architecture offers additional benefits, including the speed with which it can be deployed and maintained, and the fact that its certification period typically takes only three-and-a-half days of training. This is compared to several weeks for a copper-based network. It also comes with lower capital and operational costs, due to having less associated equipment and requiring less frequent upgrading.
Finally, users are also recognising that POL offers significant gains in terms of scalability and availability, making it easier for businesses to keep up with growing connectivity requirements and accommodate increased bandwidth needs over time.
In an editorial for ITProPortal, APOLAN member and enterprise IT president of VT Group John Cook said: "The markets are becoming increasingly competitive and environmentally conscious. POL provides the differentiator that saves money, while increasing the efficiency of a building."
As such, Mr Cook described POL technology as "the first major revelation in the cabling infrastructure world in more than a decade", noting that particularly strong returns on investment can be yielded by companies that consolidate their networks into a single POL-based infrastructure.
Due to these established benefits, it is likely that POL will represent a key driver for the adoption of fibre optic technology within the enterprise community, having already achieved widespread penetration among residential users due to its advantages in the delivery of digital media and other services.
Given the ever-increasing amount of data that modern businesses have to process - and the growing reliance on connected technology to facilitate flexible working, teleconferencing and the use of cloud-based business services - the appeal of POL technology will only become more pronounced.
Mr Cook said: "As we face the current realities and look to the future, people will be connected to the world for commerce, as well as to consume information, video, emailing and texting. The unwritten expectation is untethered connectivity."