This week’s blog post comes from guest blogger, Tony Pearson.
This week took me across the continental US. As this seems to have become a recurring theme for me, the journey itself was riddled with delays, multiple connections and this time, excessive heat! That said, it’s actually the journey I’d like to focus on in this blog, and something else that’s become hot on global travels – WiFi hotspots. Given the ubiquity of the hot spots in my observation, I would not be surprised if the very word will slip into obsolescence within a matter of just a few years, much as the phrase dial-up seems to have slipped from my vocabulary – interesting side note: on this trip I was actually asked why I couldn’t connect through the hotel phone if the WiFi connection didn’t work – preposterous!
With a travel itinerary covering remote rural locations to the center of major US Cities, with hotels firmly in the realm of the budget conscious, it is still the case that I am surprised nowadays when a wireless broadband service is not offered in a hotel room or airport…and now train station – yes, Amtrak has wireless service in their waiting rooms! Even the newest sports arenas advertise WiFi hotspots and the cell phone service which now of course needs to support the activity of 40,000 plus Facebook, Twitter and texting addicts, not to mention the relentless onslaught of e-mail and the odd photo of faraway family. So WiFi’s everywhere and I can be online anywhere, but this blog is about fiber optics, so what’s my point?
It was a retired long distance truck driver in a sports bar/restaurant during my trip that was the real inspiration for this blog. The first thing I noticed was how quickly he grasped the concept of “what I do” – a question I’ve been asked by family and friends over the two decades that I’ve been in the business that typically elicited blank unknowing stares in response to my weak effort to condense the function and value of high-speed semiconductor laser technology transmitting over glass fiber. But this guy got it! It seems that as the world becomes more connected we’re all starting to grasp the importance and now makeup of the “plumbing” that enables our connected world. Ironically this could perhaps be compared with the heightened awareness of the homeowner living in hard water regions to the value of the very material we aim to replace in the communications world – copper!
He went on to ask a very insightful question – “aren’t (I) worried about the spread of WiFi – won’t that eliminate the need for my fancy lasers?” I think it’s a question he perhaps later wishes he hadn’t asked as I waxed lyrical to the contrary, that in fact I LOVE WiFi and smart phones and social media and and and…because they all end up somewhere on a piece of glass, and at both ends of that piece of glass, there’s an opportunity for an existing Finisar product, or new Finisar Innovation. Truth be told I don’t believe my new acquaintance went away any richer for the knowledge, but I believe I did – the whole world is becoming far more ‘fiber-savvy’ and with that comes interest, proliferation and demand.
On the hardware end of this journey, I had the opportunity to discuss the growing spread of fiber optic links not only to the modern “Cloud” in ever growing datacenters and HPC’s, but even to the old fashioned fluffy clouds with fiber in aircraft for entertainments systems and avionics…and even further beyond to the ‘final frontier’ – Space!