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How Fiber Optics Helps Businesses and People in the Digital Age Experts agree that fiber optic technology will become more and more relevant in the coming years

By Asit Tirkey

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Nikolay Khorkov, a technology entrepreneur, inventor, and founder of Fibertool

Every year we consume more and more data. In order to ensure the reliability of the connection, telecommunications companies pull fiber optic networks. And in various areas of our lives, fiber-optic sensors are increasingly being used. Experts agree that fiber optic technology will become more and more relevant in the coming years.

This thesis is confirmed by Nikolay Khorkov, a technology entrepreneur, inventor, and founder of Fibertool.

I have been working in the telecommunications industry since the 2000s. Initially, my company provided internet connection services, but then I built a company that offers comprehensive solutions, including equipment, components, and staff training, for building modern telecom networks. We also engage in cutting-edge developments based on fiber optic technologies. The world is rapidly changing, new economic development trends and global challenges emerge. Fiber optic technologies are a highly promising field, and I can name at least five reasons why entrepreneurs should pay close attention to them.

Digital Business Transformation

Digital transformation and the transition to Industry 4.0 aim to improve the current state of a company by reevaluating its initial business model. Digitalization allows for changes in company processes and a reassessment of its strategy. It should not be confused with automation, which only optimizes employee work and reduces the impact of human factors. Digital transformation, on the other hand, helps assess the efficiency of work processes and find new formats for interacting with customers. In fact, the sooner a business realizes the need for digital transformation, the more chances it has to remain competitive.

Of course, the question of digital transformation is relevant not for all companies, but for many. For example, the retail sector clearly benefits from "going digital." The implementation of video analytics enables the tracking of queues and the prompt opening of additional cash registers, as well as the analysis of peak periods of store visits. Earlier, IDC estimated that companies could spend $1.8 trillion on digital transformation in 2022, and by 2026, this figure could reach $3.4 trillion. Naturally, digital transformation implies the growth of speed and quality in information transmission, and fiber optic networks can assist in achieving this.

When people hear about "optics," they immediately think of telecommunications, but there are other ways businesses can utilize it. For example, Fiber Optic Sensing (FOS) - sensors that use optical fiber as a data transmission line - can be successfully applied for monitoring various processes. In industry, FOS can be used for process control and the implementation of the fourth industrial revolution, while in the oil and gas sector, it can be used for equipment monitoring during extraction and transportation, optimization of tank management, and more.

In developing the FOS field, I founded Optolex. We have successfully created a device that efficiently collects data from optical fiber, and my patented software analyzes the acquired big data. The project has been successfully implemented in practice for the protection of extensive objects such as pipelines and airports.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things is a system of computer networks that collect and exchange data, enabling remote control of processes without human intervention. People are increasingly integrating IoT into their daily lives. Striving for comfort, they actively utilize technologically advanced devices in the concept of a smart home. It consists of interconnected devices that communicate through IoT protocols with a central control hub, which then connects to the user terminal via the provider's server. The user terminal can be a touch console on the wall of the residence or the homeowner's smartphone. According to Precedence Research, the global smart home technology market reached $80.45 billion in 2022, and it is projected to grow to $581.85 billion by 2032.

However, the Internet of Things is not limited to automatic coffee machines or light bulbs. Businesses also leverage it for more comprehensive purposes such as automating routine processes and increasing labor productivity. According to Meticulous Research, the industrial Internet of Things market is growing at an annual rate of nearly 17%, and its volume is expected to reach $263.4 billion by 2027. Global giants like Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and John Deere employ this technology.

Once again, we come back to the fact that smart technologies require extensive broadband networks. Without them, the industry cannot thrive. Machine-to-machine communication and device interaction with users necessitate the transmission of massive amounts of data to data center servers. In essence, the further proliferation of smart home concepts requires the presence of fiber optic networks in every household.

That's where Fibertool comes in. We have accumulated significant experience in deploying fiber optic networks of any scale and have recognized the benefits of extending fiber optic cables to end users. This significantly improves communication quality while reducing energy consumption for active equipment.

Big Data

IoT is closely linked to Big Data - enormous volumes of data sets. They are an integral part of Industry 4.0, which, as I mentioned earlier, involves the fusion of business and society with digital technologies. There are numerous use cases for big data, and I'll provide two examples, one in the mechanical realm and one in the human realm. In the industrial sector, Big Data enables production automation, prediction of critical situations, and analysis of demand for specific products. In healthcare, big data allows for disease forecasting, electronic medical record-keeping, early detection of critical situations for each patient, and the selection of the best treatment strategies for individuals.

Clearly, the data accumulated by businesses is highly valuable to them as it contains information about customers and key processes. Utilizing this information correctly can provide a significant advantage over competitors. However, achieving this requires an advanced IT infrastructure. Instant access to big data requires data centers with powerful servers, as well as high-speed data transmission, which can only be ensured by fiber optics. The processing of data within data centers also implies an increase in the usage of fiber optic networks.

"Smart Cities"

Another rapidly developing trend is the emergence of "smart cities." There are now over 200 smart cities worldwide, with Barcelona, Singapore, London, Dubai, Seoul, New York, Zurich, and Amsterdam being among the most advanced. These urban centers utilize big data to enhance safety and energy efficiency.

A smart city features an improved urban infrastructure. For example, a smart city system contributes to enhancing fire safety. Sensors promptly alert emergency services about an incident, and city systems automatically redirect traffic, while also notifying citizens. Smart city systems enable the tracking of object locations, allowing residents to use smartphones in real-time to determine the arrival of buses or identify streets affected by traffic congestion.

To successfully implement a "smart" approach to urban planning, technologically advanced data centers and efficient data analysis programs are necessary. Seamless connectivity and high-speed internet access are also essential for sensors and devices to gather and exchange information. Once again, fiber optic networks can play a significant role, as they offer low signal attenuation, are immune to electromagnetic interference, and function effectively in varying temperatures and humidity levels.

In this field, my company, Fibertool, has also gained interesting experience. Based on our fiber optic network, we deployed traffic monitoring systems, as well as security and emergency alert systems, in one of the Russian cities.

ESG Transformation

Many companies worldwide are engaged in ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) transformations. These companies utilize renewable energy sources, implement waste recycling practices, collaborate with public associations, and select partners and clients interested in sustainable development. The levels of investment in such projects vary depending on the size of the organization and industry, but businesses are increasingly incorporating this expenditure category into their investment programs.

According to the European Commission, telecommunications currently account for 8-10% of global energy consumption and 2-4% of greenhouse gas emissions. Fiber optics can help reduce these figures, as this technology offers numerous advantages compared to copper cables. Firstly, fiber optics allow for a reduction in copper production. A 200-foot copper cable requires 2 kg of copper, and the mining process releases approximately 1 kg of hazardous substances into the atmosphere. Secondly, light signals can travel long distances through fibers with minimal power loss, resulting in fewer signal amplifiers and lower energy consumption. Thirdly, fiber optic cables are more durable than copper cables. They are resistant to corrosion, temperature fluctuations, and electromagnetic interference, meaning that networks built using fiber optics require less frequent repairs.

However, sustainable development is not only about ecology but also about achieving a balanced flow of processes in the economic and social lives of people. Optic fiber represents a business contribution to addressing social issues. This technology enables bridging the digital divide, offering people who were previously deprived of digitalization benefits the opportunity to fully participate in the global economy and improve their quality of life. For some, it provides the ability to consult with healthcare professionals promptly, for others, it offers access to education and employment opportunities to apply acquired knowledge in practice.

I am proud that Fibertool is creating and promoting solutions that bridge the digital divide and make telecom services accessible to everyone. Thanks to the work of our company and other players in the telecom industry, the CIS region has one of the highest rates of broadband internet availability for citizens, with prices below $10 per month. And Fibertool group's telecom provider that we use to test our new hardware and software technologies offers a 100 Mbit/sec connection for only $3.5 monthly payment. This way we make the digital world available to everyone.

What's the next steps?

Digital technologies are a vivid example of how communication enhances people's quality of life. According to Statista, in 2017, the number of fiber optic internet subscribers worldwide exceeded 1 billion, and by 2022, it had increased to 1.4 billion out of a total of 5.3 billion internet users. It is evident that in the long-term perspective, fiber optic technologies will be in high demand by telecom companies, and the implementation of FOS and other advanced optical solutions will contribute to the continuous development of this sector.

For businesses, fiber optics provide faster and more efficient communication, enable the adoption of cutting-edge technologies, and enhance data security. It is a crucial infrastructure component for enterprises worldwide, enabling them to remain competitive, implement innovations, and thrive in the modern digital era. Entrepreneurs who want to stay afloat and grow their businesses in line with key global trends in the economy and technology should pay close attention to the fiber optic business, explore investment prospects, establish reliable partnerships, and assess the potential for integrating these technologies into their operations.

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