The Bigger Picture

By Mark Vickers

Trends tend to connect with one another like pieces in a puzzle. Here's a quick sketch of some major trends that stand out in recent studies and the overall picture they present.

Piece 1: Connective Fiber There are huge amounts of fiber optic cable laid throughout much of the world. In fact, until recently, there was much more in the ground and under the oceans than people could use. Last August, however, the Wall Street Journal reported that the glut of supply isn't what it used to be. 'We're in the stage where people don't have extra lit capacity,' said Prof. Andrew Odlyzko of the University of Minnesota, referring to cable that's already hooked up to the telecommunications network. Usage has particularly picked up in the fiber optic cables under the Atlantic Ocean and in swaths of Asia (Heinzl & Young, 2006). The bottom line is that, while there's still plenty of room for growth, the wired world has come into its own, maturing to a place where many thought it would be some years ago.

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