Pirelli launches new photonics business

Looking to capitalize more directly on the growing demand for high-bandwidth services in metro-access networks, the Pirelli Group has established a new company that combines its existing photonics products with its broadband access business.

MILAN, ITALY - Looking to capitalize more directly on the growing demand for high-bandwidth services in metro-access networks, the Pirelli Group has established a new company that combines its existing photonics products with its broadband access business. The new business group, Pirelli Broadband Solutions, will make its official debut at ECOC 2005 in Glasgow, Scotland, later this month.

“The photonics activity of Pirelli that is being incorporated into Pirelli Broadband Solutions started immediately after Pirelli exited the photonics market in 2000, when our traditional photonic business was sold to Cisco (DWDM) and Corning (optical components),” said Pierluigi Franco, vice president of marketing and product management for Pirelli’s photonics division. “We then began developing a new generation of photonic devices (in 2001), and this was incorporated into the corporate R&D activity for photonics for Pirelli. So this is where we come from, the photonics business division, and we are leveraging the optical technologies developed in the last four years by Pirelli Labs.”

But Franco notes that the new company is not dealing just with photonics but with all aspects of broadband access, including CPE for ADSL and fiber access.

Much of the company’s initial focus will be on lower-cost metro-access products based upon a modular coarse wavelength division multiplexing (CWDM) platform. According to Franco, Pirelli Broadband Solutions is targeting two key issues that are relatively new to the metro-access area: flexibility and multiwavelength capabilities.

“What we see on the market is that a new evolution of broadband access, with higher and higher bandwidth demand pushing the need for access in the metro area,” Franco said. “So all the photonics products in this unit are devoted to the metro area. And we are going after the growth of the ADSL market in the metro area. The broadband access market began some years ago, and the need for photonics products in this follows, for supporting all the bandwidth needs in the access side.”

Among the first products to be marketed by Pirelli Broadband Solutions are the City8, an eight-channel CWDM carrier-class platform that provides high-bandwidth, managed services over a single fiber pair, and the DTL 13 dynamically tunable laser, which is able to replace more than 100 fixed lasers and provide a high-purity signal and strong frequency stability. Looking ahead, Franco said the group’s next product will be a tunable OADM that adds more flexibility and tunability in the network.

“Since its foundation, our company has established a strategy to develop low-cost and advanced optical solutions that will optimize the telecom operator’s network and eliminate bottlenecks in the metro access area,” said Mauro Sacchetto, CEO of Pirelli Broadband Solutions. “CWDM is one of the most promising technologies for deploying IP-based television, allowing telecoms to better manage the broadband traffic generated from services such as IPTV. CWDM technology is also both less complex and less expensive than the current alternative (DWDM).”

According to Franco, these products leverage several technologies developed by Pirelli Labs in recent years, particularly those involving nanotechnologies for photonics. The company’s R&D in this regard has led to the development of integrated systems and subsystems that are more compact and less costly to produce, he added.

“Within the lab, we have an entire fab facility for optical components involving silicon-based materials. So all of our PBS products are based on this nanotechnology approach,” Franco said. “For us, nanotechnology is a quite simple concept: the miniaturization and integration of optical function on silicon-based materials, which are much less expensive and offer many potential applications in photonics.”

- Kathy Kincade

More in Home