LIVE FROM MWC19 SHANGHAI: The rapid move to 5G is the driving force behind soaring demand for optical fibre deployments, with a total of 3 billion km forecast to be laid globally in the next five years.

Dan Zhuang, president of YOFC, the largest fibre company in China, said during a keynote: “We believe optical fibre when combined with Wi-Fi has laid a solid foundation for the 5G generation.”

The benefits of 5G, such as low latency and massive numbers of connections, requires a strong fibre backbone, he stressed, noting that as China’s operators move to the standalone 5G architecture from non-standalone, a robust fibre network is even more important.

He cited data predicting annual global fibre demand to increase from 590 million km to 650 million km in 2030. The world has an estimated 4.2 billion km of fibre, or 650 metres per person.

China has about 105 million km of fibre or 750 metres per person. To reach the same level as Western countries (with slightly more than 1 km per capita), he said the country needs to lay a further 3 billion km.