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MEMS for optical networks finally seeing the light

With the telecom industry apparently emerging from the abyss in which it has resided for the past couple of years,...

April 26, 2004  

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With the telecom industry apparently emerging from the abyss in which it has resided for the past couple of years, In-Stat/MDR is cautiously optimistic with regards to the market for MEMS-based components in optical networks.

The high-tech market research firm reports that 2003 ended surprisingly strong for this segment, and with the increase in customer activity, and, taking into account the time frame necessary for product evaluation and qualification, those offering MEMS-based solutions appear well situated for slow, steady upward growth in the future.

“MEMS is no longer a bad word,” said Marlene Bourne, a senior analyst with In-Stat/MDR. “Companies once avoided use of the term because of concerns about reliability — now they don’t because it is seen as a competitive advantage. And some who have never used the term MEMS before are using it — for that very reason.”

In-Stat/MDR found that investors appear optimistic too, having funneled US$38 million to MEMS suppliers in the first quarter of 2004 alone.

But Bourne points out that a reality check is needed in one particular segment — there are far too many companies pursuing the development of Variable Optical Attenuators, making that sector ready for consolidation.

In-Stat/MDR has also found that:

* Despite projected consolidation in some segments, the number of companies who have gone dark, or significantly shifted their business models to focus on other technologies, products, or markets, newcomers continue to enter the field;

* Unit shipments of MEMS-based components for use in optical networking are forecast to increase at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 15.5% and revenues are forecast to increase at a CAGR of 25%, and

* Shipments of MEMS-based components, other than switches, are forecast to grow at a CAGR of 14.8%, and while VOAs will remain a strong factor in these sales, continued growing demand for tunable filters and lasers, as well as dynamic components, coupled with decreasing price points, will help drive sales.

The report, entitled MEMS and Optical Networks: Cautiously Optimistic, provides an overview of MEMS-based solutions for optical networking applications, and looks at the products, companies, and continuing evolution of MEMS in optical networking.

The report profiles who’s out and who’s still in, what happened in 2003 and what to expect in the coming year, and provides an overview of products and their availability. Forecasts of revenues and unit shipments for switches and other components are provided through 2008