Oclaro: ClariPhy deal boosts 100G component and module play

MAY 27, 2010 By Stephen Hardy -- While the investment in ClariPhy Communications positions his company to develop 100-Gbps coherent transponders, Oclaro CEO Alain Couder asserts the partnership announced yesterday offers a greater near-term opportunity in 100G components.

MAY 27, 2010 By Stephen Hardy -- While the investment in ClariPhy Communications positions his company to develop 100-Gbps coherent transponders, Oclaro President and CEO Alain Couder asserts the partnership announced yesterday offers a greater near-term opportunity in 100G components.

“Most of our big customers -- Huawei, Alcatel, Ciena/Nortel -- they design their own 100G and 40G [transponders or line cards],” Couder explained yesterday to Lightwave. “So we only can sell components to them. As they probably have 60% of the DWDM market share, if we don’t [have offerings] at the component level, we miss a large part of the market.”

Thus the Oclaro sales team will co-market ClariPhy electronics with Oclaro optical components for systems houses interested in building their own 100G line cards. Couder expects the two companies will develop reference designs as part of this process, based on a 100G chip set Oclaro and ClariPhy are developing. The chip set should be ready by 2011 for 2012 deployments, Couder said.

Couder believes that market dynamics will make off-the-shelf offerings appealing to do-it-yourself customers in the future. “We think that over time, the price of developing very high-speed electronics will increase,” he said. “And I think that a chip set that has been designed to be pre-tested, pre-designed with optical components can save time to market for some of the people who currently are doing their own chips.”

The opportunities for merchant 100G modules should improve as well. “The number of companies that can afford to do their own transponder will be going down,” Couder predicted. “And you see that right now. Most of the Tier 2 companies are buying modules, while the Tier 1 companies are buying modules at 10G -- not all of them, but some at 10G -- but most of them do their own 40G and 100G. All of that is going to evolve. I think we’ll see less and less people doing their own module -- if we have the right module with the right performance. We’re starting to see that with DQPSK 40G modules.”

Speaking of 40G, a coherent offering at that rate isn’t on the front burner for Oclaro and ClariPhy. “There’s probably some room for a very long-haul coherent solution [at 40G]. But it is not obvious at this point whether the market is going to be very large or not and whether it is worthwhile developing a module,” Couder said. If a 100G transponder hit the market at roughly twice the price of 40G, that very long-haul niche would close as well, he added.

Interestingly, Couder said Oclaro found its options limited when it began looking for an electronics partner to help the company with its 100G coherent plans. “The other options were CoreOptics and Opnext. I’m not aware of any other one,” Couder said. “CoreOptics was off the table as a result of the acquisition by Cisco. And Opnext is more of a competitor of ours.”

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