"It's going to be tough sledding for a couple of years," he said. "It's our job to hang in there and remember we've been through these kinds of blips before."
Lanza stuck mostly to grand issues, such as comparing the information revolution, which he said is only at its midpoint, with the industrial revolution. On a more immediate front, he saw hope in optical buildouts such as the RBOCs' proposed fiber-to-the-premises project (see Fiber Access Plans Proliferate and Analysts Narrow RFP Odds).
Some observers question the sincerity of that proposal, but Lanza thinks it's for real. His evidence? The RBOCs' debt, which measured $170 billion as of 2000 has been reduced by about $100 billion already. "Bandwidth is doubling every year, and they're paying down debt. I think they're getting ready to do something," he said.
Some of Lanza's reasons didn't seem that "optimistic" for optical, however. One point was that Moore's Law -- the maxim that semiconductor complexity keeps growing -- still holds, and that similar rules have applied for other technologies. Storage is a prime example, as disk drives hold 1,500 times more than they did around 1990, compared with about 40x growth in modem/DSL access speeds during the same period.
A 1,500x improvement has made all kinds of new applications possible. For example, Lanza has heard pitches for an über TiVO, a personal video recorder that could grab four hours of all channels at once -- an entire evening of TV [ed. note: shudder], rather than specific shows.
That's not necessarily a sign of trouble, but it's a cool application that doesn't require any fiber-to-the-wherever networks. Lanza listed the ongoing march of technology as a reason for optimism, but it could also help keep optical spirits down for quite a while.
For those of you keeping score, here are Lanza's 10 reasons, paraphrased:
- The industry is poised to wire the planet
- Communications are being recognized as a basic human right
- R&D cycles have gotten faster
- Moore's Law lives on
- The industry's finances are returning to sanity
- Electronics advances spur photonics
- Internet commerce is, like, huge
- All content is going digital
- IP is becoming ubiquitous
- The information revolution is at its midpoint
— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading