Fiberoptics Industry Report

Jan. 1, 2004
Corning to further consolidate fiber fabs; TriQuint, Network Elements join forces; BTG to commercialize strain-compensated VCSELs; MORE...

Corning to further consolidate fiber fabs

Corning (Corning, NY) is consolidating the manufacturing operations of its high purity fused silica and fluoride crystal materials production into its Canton, NY, facility, and its fluoride crystals components finishing production into Corning Tropel's operation in Fairport, NY. These actions will result in the closure of Corning facilities in Charleston, SC, and North Brookfield, MA. More than 130 employees will be affected in Charleston and North Brookfield, though Corning intends to reassign about two dozen employees to other Corning facilities. Approximately 70 new jobs will be created at the Canton and Corning Tropel facilities as a result of the consolidation. The North Brookfield plant is scheduled to close by the end of this year and the Charleston facility is scheduled to close by the end of the first quarter 2004.

According to James Steiner, senior vice president and general manager of Corning Specialty Materials, Corning's Semiconductor Optics business has been facing significant financial and operational challenges due to the extended down cycle in the semiconductor market.

TriQuint, Network Elements join forces

Network Elements (Beaverton, OR), a developer of 10-Gbit/s optical-networking modules, has solidified a strategic partnership with TriQuint Semiconductor (Hillsboro, OR), a supplier of high-performance components for communications applications. The companies will collaborate on the development, production, and worldwide distribution of optical 10-Gbit/s optical-networking modules. The partnership between Network Elements and TriQuint is expected to expand both companies' presence in the 10-Gbit/s datacom, telecom, storage area networking, and test markets. With its acquisition of Agere's optoelectronics business last year, TriQuint is now positioned to be a leading supplier of optical components and modules.

BTG to commercialize strain-compensated VCSELs

BTG (London, England) has acquired exclusive rights to commercialize strain-compensated multiple-quantum-well vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) from the Cornell Research Foundation (Ithaca, NY). With the advent of longer-wavelength VCSELs operating at 1300 and 1550 nm, BTG believes VCSELs will increasingly appeal to transceiver products required for short- and intermediate-reach SONET/SDH and fiber-to-the-home applications. Parallel VCSEL transceivers are particularly attractive for back-plane interconnect applications.

"The telecom market is looking for a next-generation technology that will replace costly, low-yield devices, such as distributed-feedback lasers at 1300- and 1550-nm wavelengths," said Jay Kshatri, vice president of BTG's Semiconductors & Optoelectronics Business Unit. "We believe that the strain-compensated VCSEL is that technology, and we are actively seeking licensees who are interested in integrating this technology into their commercial products."

Avanex considers closing Scotland facility

Avanex (Fremont, CA) plans to discontinue operations in Livingston, Scotland, subject to regulatory processes and consultations with the workforce. Walter Alessandrini, chairman and CEO, said that the company is "investigating all of our options with regard to Livingston."

The Livingston plant, formerly operated by Scottish optoelectronics flagship company Kymata, specializes in passive-component manufacture, including arrayed waveguide gratings and fiber Bragg gratings. At the peak of the telecom boom, 450 people were employed by Kymata. The company was purchased by Alcatel in 2001, and then transferred to Avanex in May 2003. Alcatel had already cut jobs at Livingston, and at the time of the acquisition the staff was further reduced to around 100. Since the agreement, speculation has been rife that Avanex would wind down the plant when it took over operations in September 2003.

Also in the news . . .

Alcatel (Paris, France) is collaborating with OMMIC (Limeil-Brévannes, France) on the transfer of Alcatel's advanced indium phosphide heterojunction bipolar transistor technology to OMMIC. This transfer will complete OMMIC's commercial portfolio of III-V technologies and will provide Alcatel with a qualified source to develop 40-Gbit/s transmission systems for core networks. . . . PhotonEx (Maynard, MA) reportedly has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Founded in 1999, the company was developing 40-Gbit/s, long-haul DWDM systems. . . . fSONA (Vancouver, BC, Canada) signed a global procurement agreement with Bechtel, a premier provider of engineering, construction, and management services worldwide. Bechtel Telecommunications analyzes free-space-optics technology, along with other leading-edge technologies, in its laboratories and has been using the fSONA SONAbeam 155-M free-space-optics link at its Frederick, MD, headquarters for more than a year and a half.

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