Fujitsu to double production with $500-million investment in SONET

Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. (Richardson, TX) expects to invest $500 million over the next two years to expand production of its optical transport systems. Responding to customer demand for its FLASH-192 10-Gbit/sec Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) add/drop multiplexer, the company plans to double its production capacity over the next year.

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Fujitsu Network Communications Inc. (Richardson, TX) expects to invest $500 million over the next two years to expand production of its optical transport systems. Responding to customer demand for its FLASH-192 10-Gbit/sec Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) add/drop multiplexer, the company plans to double its production capacity over the next year. The investment will up production to 1,000 systems per month, an increase of 10 times the output at the beginning of 1999.

Fujitsu, the telecommunications division of the Japanese Fujitsu Ltd., will spend $250 to expand its U.S. headquarters in Richardson, TX. The remaining $250 million will pay for additions of equipment and personnel at a sister plant in Oyama, Japan, says company spokesman Kevin Tanzillo.

In Richardson, Fujitsu plans to start soon on a 163,000-square-foot facility, increasing its total building space to more than 900,000 square feet. The new space, costing about $17 million, will add office, labs, manufacturing, and warehouse facilities. Of the new expansion, 35,000 square feet will be office space, 7500 square feet will be laboratories, and the remainder will be warehouse and manufacturing space, says Tanzillo.

According to Tanzillo, Fujitsu anticipates that demand for its OC-192 equipment will increase 200% from fiscal 1999 to fiscal 2000. The company has been able to significantly increase production levels in its current facility over the past several months. Now the company is investing heavily in production equipment and additional personnel in an effort to double the current output of FLASH-192 systems within the next year. "We've already been able to beef up production, and we're bringing in equipment as we speak. The increase will be felt immediately," Tanzillo says. Production of Fujitsu's FLM 2400 SONET OC-48 add/drop multiplexer and the FLASHWAVE wavelength-division multiplexing system will also increase.

The FLASH-192 system is Fujitsu's advanced SONET add/drop multiplexer for high-capacity transport systems in interoffice and interexchange carrier networks. The system combines the functions of a fiber-optic terminal, digital multiplexer, and digital crossconnect into one network node. Its routing capability gives service providers a 768 x 768 time-slot-assignment matrix. This large matrix provides a great deal of flexibility, allowing carriers to route and groom individual channels within the 10-Gbit/sec system.

Fujitsu is confident that SONET multiplexers and other equipment will continue to be in high demand for the next several years, despite industry discussions predicting its impending death. "Will there be a replacement for SONET? Yes," Tanzillo acknowledges. "Is that going to happen real soon? No. And, in the meantime, the demand is just amazing for the high-bandwidth equipment. Fujitsu would not vastly increase production capacity for a technology that's going to go away in a couple of years. We certainly expect the demand for SONET to justify this."

Catherine Cook, an analyst for Ryan Hankin Kent Inc. (South San Francisco, CA), agrees on the future of SONET. "There has been much touting of the demise of SONET into other network elements," she says. "This is beginning to happen, but not as fast as the growth in bandwidth demand. SONET functionality and SONET network elements are going to be around in the network for a long time to come."

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