Fiberoptics Industry Report

Sept. 1, 2002
PhoPack keynote finds bright spots

PhoPack keynote finds bright spots

Partnering with semiconductor manufacturers and using their existing fab facilities to produce optoelectronic integrated circuits (OEICs) built on materials such as silicon and indium phosphide is going to be essential for optoelectronic vendors to survive and eventually prosper in the telecom and datacom fields, according to Michael Lebby, founder and CEO of Ignis Optics (San Jose, CA). In a keynote address, "Business and Technical Perspectives for Optical Networking," at PhoPack 2002, held in July at Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA), Lebby said, photonics companies already demonstrating the ability to produce integrated, and even pluggable, OEICs are currently attracting the bulk of the venture capital still coming into this industry this year. "There are still some valid venture-capital hot buttons, including integration, automation, higher performance, smaller footprints, and the ability to piggy-back off the IC industry," Lebby said. "But innovation is critical. New optical components are appearing that affect integration, and materials technology is defining technology advancements."

JDSU sells optic unit

JDS Uniphase (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and San Jose, CA) will sell its Cronos MEMS business and assets, according to Reuters, acquired for $565 million two years ago, in an $8.5 million deal with France's MEMSCAP (Grenoble, France). The sale came a week after JDS forecast more layoffs, plant closings and sales erosion on the heels of a fourth-.quarter loss of nearly $1 billion. MEMSCAP will acquire Cronos free of debt, other liabilities, working capital or cash balances, for 10.5 million common shares, plus an additional 6.5 million shares will be issued if revenue targets are met and MEMSCAP will be an exclusive supplier to JDSU for MEMS chips and other MEMS products for at least three years. JDS Uniphase also appointed Syrus Madavi to replace Jozef Straus as president and Gregory Dougherty as COO. Dougherty is leaving JDS Uniphase to support a seriously ill family member and Straus will continue as chairman and CEO.

Lightwave and OMM develop MEMS-on-a-chip

Lightwave Microsystems (San Jose, CA) and OMM (San Diego, CA) have announced a joint agreement to develop a new generation of wavelength management and switching products based on microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) from OMM and planar lightwave circuits (PLCs) from Lightwave Microsystems. "The technologies are now mature enough to be merged," says Conard Burke, senior vice president of sales and marketing for OMM. The two companies will work together to integrate PLCs and MEMS into hybrid optoelectronic integrated circuits (HOICs). A series of hybrid integrated modules will incorporate wavelength selectable filters with MEMS technology for use in scalable optical add/drop and optical switch building blocks. The agreement will mark the first time the two technologies have been combined into one module for commercial availability.

Corning cancels building plans

Corning (Corning, NY) has cancelled plans to build an optical-fiber manufacturing facility in Oklahoma City, OK, due to current market conditions in telecommunications. Impairment charges for the Oklahoma City facility were taken in the second quarter as part of Corning's previously announced plans for aggressive cost reductions across the company. Corning announced plans to build the facility in Oklahoma City in December 2000. In June 2001, Corning announced that it would delay the construction project, which was less than 10% complete, for at least 12 to 18 months in response to changing market conditions. Corning has also cancelled plans for the second major expansion of its Concord, NC, optical-fiber manufacturing facility, originally announced in December 2000. The first expansion, which was previously announced in February 2000 and delayed in June 2001, will move forward once market conditions deem it appropriate.

Hassaun A. Jones-Bey

Also in the news . . .

Aurora Networks (Santa Clara, CA), a developer of optical transport systems for broadband networks has raised $30 million in a Series B funding. The capital will be used to increase production capabilities. To date, Aurora has raised $60 million in funding . . . . Essex (Columbia, MD), Fiberspace (Woodland Hills, CA), and Opticalis (Center Valley, PA) have completed Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) to co-market their technologies. The companies will synchronize their marketing efforts, and collaborate on joint presentations, integrated demonstrations, and co-authored technical papers. . . . FlexLight Networks (Atlanta, GA) has received a $1.5 million investment on behalf of the Office of the Chief Scientist, the research and development arm of the Israeli Ministry of Trade. . . . Alcatel Optronics (Paris, France) announced that the management buyout of Alcatel Optronics Netherlands has been completed. The new entity called C2V is independently owned and financially supported by a Dutch private equity firm.

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