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Bit Parts: Cisco Funding Up for Grabs

Carolyn Mathas
News Analysis
Carolyn Mathas

Money matters dominate the latest roundup of the technology, R&D, financial, and jobs news from the communications components sector, with Cisco leading the way.

  • Cisco Investments, the venture funding operation of the IP networking giant, is boosting the money it is making available to early-stage companies during the next few years by $150 million. Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has a number of "themes" driving its investment decisions, and noted in its official announcement that chipsets, enabling technologies for the Internet of Things (IoT), storage, and analytics are all among its key focus areas. That's got to be good news for the components sector, right? Cisco Investments currently has a portfolio valued at more than $2 billion, and has more than 80 direct investments. (See Cisco Investments Gets $150M Boost.)

  • The wireless market is driving lots of new business for CommScope Inc. , which provides a broad range of sub-systems for fixed line, mobile and cable networks to systems vendors and network operators. The vendor just announced a 16% year-on-year increase in first quarter revenues to $935 million, driven primarily by increasingly demand in the US and EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa) for the company's mobile cell site and small cell distributed antenna solutions. For more details, see this earnings announcement. (See Capex Trend Points to Less Seasonality – Analysts, CommScope Raises Q1 Guidance on Wireless Strength, and The Case for Indoor Wireless Coverage .)

  • Optical components specialist JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) also just announced its latest financials, but its numbers were hit by "later-than-expected carrier orders." (See Capex Slowdown Slams JDSU.)

  • Fellow optical components vendor Oplink Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: OPLK), meanwhile, is experiencing "a bit of softness in our optical business," according to Chairman and CEO Joe Liu. In the company's fiscal third quarter, which ended March 30, revenues at $48.1 million were up from the $44.1 million of a year ago. However, non-GAAP net income of $0.3 million was down from $3.4 million a year ago. Find out more by reading the company's earnings report.

  • Amphenol Corp., which makes fiber connectors, interconnect systems, and coaxial and flat-ribbon cable, reported first quarter revenues of $1.25 billion and earnings per share before one-time costs (non-GAAP) of $0.99, up by 15% and 14% respectively compared with a year ago. See this financial statement for more details.

  • M/A-COM Technology Solutions Inc. has added 17 high-performance gallium nitride on silicon (GaN on Si) RF power transistors and amplifiers to its portfolio of products targeted at multiple sectors, including wireless infrastructure and defense communications. For more details, see this announcement. The new products are the direct result of the $26 million acquisition of Nitronex, a specialist designer and manufacturer of GaN-based RF solutions.

  • Embedded computing solutions specialist VadaTech has the mobile backhaul systems market in its sights with the launch of a MicroTCA Carrier Hub product that boasts advanced clocking/synchronization capabilities vital for the delivery of time-stamped services such as voice. (See VadaTech Unveils New MicroTCA Carrier Hub.)

  • The IEEE Photonics Society announced a call for papers for the 2014 IEEE Photonics Conference to be held October 12-16 in San Diego, Calif. It's looking for original technical presentations in lasers, optoelectronics, optical fiber networks, and similar topics. Hurry, though, if you want to submit a paper, since the deadline is May 9.

  • Emcore Corp. (Nasdaq: EMKR), which develops optical technologies for all manner of broadband and video networks, unveiled the PB7220, a two-channel portable frequency domain terahertz spectrometer, which enables simultaneous phase coherent transmission and reflection measurements. A second channel allows a system to collect sample information at a variety of angles of reflection while continuing to monitor the transmission. The PB7220 series uses precisely tuned, fiber-coupled, semiconductor distributed feedback lasers and a highly advanced photo-mixing source for signal-to-noise ratios (SNR) of up to 70 dB/Hz across the scan range.

  • It's not every day that new R&D and manufacturing facilities are added, but that's exactly what components manufacturer Thorlabs Inc. is doing in Montreal as the company brings its global total of manufacturing sites to 13. The new facility, which will employ up to 40 staff, will develop and produce passive optical components specifically for medical imaging and advanced instrumentation in physical sciences. Thorlabs, which supplies a broad range of products to multiple vertical industries, including telecom, has expanded its business from its laser and electro-optics beginnings into semiconductor fabrication of Fabry-Perot, DFB, QCL, and VCSEL lasers, fiber towers for drawing glass optical fibers, MBE crystal growth machines, extensive glass and metal fabrication facilities, advanced thin film deposition capabilities, and more.

— Carolyn Mathas, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
5/5/2014 | 10:10:22 PM
Bit Parts: Cisco Funding Up for Grabs
Exactly, @FakeMitchWagner, I believe that Cisco sees the IOT market as their next "frontier" where they can claim and rule that space.  

Carolyn's list of investments aligns with that point in that they are clearly driving the IOT market - which, as you point out, will increase the demand for networking.

I wonder if anyone will, or can, challenge them in the networking arena, while they are pursuing IOT?
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
5/5/2014 | 2:12:36 PM
Cisco go-go

Internet of Things is a major focus for Cisco as a whole, not just its investment arm. And why not? IoT will require huge amounts of networking. Likewise, storage requires networking to get data out where it's needed and back to storage, and analytics require networks to connect data. 

Cisco is in a similar position to Google — anything that increases usage of networks benefits the company, therefore the company can afford to put its fingers in a broad range of pies, some of them superficially unrelated to the core business. That's more obvious in Google's case: Robots? Self-driving cars?

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