Once again the show floor was crowded at the Optical Fiber Conference (OFC), March 17-22 in Anaheim, CA. In fact, more than 977 exhibitors were spread over two floors. Attendance approached 35,000 people--more than double last year's attendance in spite of a recent downturn in the economy and layoffs affecting the fiber industry.
In line with the downturn, Corning began its market overview session by announcing that expected growth for 2001 revenues in photonic technologies will be less than half of previous expectations. The firm also adjusted its outlook for 2001 pro forma earnings down about ten to fifteen cents to about $1.25 per share. John W. Loose, president and CEO of Corning, said the new outlook indicates that a meaningful recovery will occur much more slowly than previously anticipated--a statement mirroring that made by Cisco just a week earlier.
Despite the cautious outlook, high-volume manufacturing was a strong theme. Many exhibiting companies were poised to begin automated manufacturing to bring down cost and lead-time of products. Veeco, Axsys Technologies (Manchester, CT), and kSaria (Wilmington, MA) showcased new automation systems for components and fiberoptics. Kymata (Livingston, Scotland) announced the opening of a 50,000-square-foot facility to triple production of arrayed waveguide gratings and optical channel power monitors. Similarly, Emcore (Somerset, NJ) recently opened a 36,000-square-foot facility in Albuquerque, NM, that will triple manufacturing capacity to one million vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers.
Off the exhibit floor
The conference also included 79 short courses taught by leading experts in the field and several hundred technical papers. Postdeadline papers were presented to packed ballrooms the day after exhibits closed. In one paper, a team at NEC Corp. (Japan) led by Kiyoshi Fukuchi announced a record ultra-dense WDM transmission of 10.92 Tbit/s over 117 km of a single fiber using the C, L, & S-bands.
While NEC claimed the record for highest transmission capacity, a group from Alcatel set a new record for transmission efficiency, 1.28 bit/Hz of optical frequency range used. Sebastien Bigo of Alcatel Research and Innovation (Marcoussis, France) and colleagues stayed within the C and L-bands of erbium-fiber amplifiers, limiting total data rate to 10.2 Tbits/s..
All-optical switches are getting bigger, a team from Lucent Technologies and Agere Systems reported at the postdeadline session. At last year's OFC postdeadline session, a team from Lucent's Bell Labs reported a MEMS-based optical cross-connect with 112 inputs and 112 output terminals, and a demonstrated switching capacity of 35.8 Tbit/s. This year a large team led by R. Ryf reported a 1296-port transparent MEMS optical cross-connect with insertion loss of 5.1 dB, and worst-case crosstalk of 38 dB..
Next year's OFC will be held again Mar. 17-22 in Anaheim.