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Optical/IP

Ondax Hedges ROADM Bet

Components vendor Ondax Inc. closed a $2 million Series B funding round last month. The 14-person company also received a "six-figure" purchase order in December, which is noteworthy progress, given the crowded market for tunable filters (see Ondax Celebrates First Order).

"We have all the technology in place for manufacturing the product, so we didn't need a very big round," says Christophe Moser, Ondax CEO.

The Series B funding was led by Gabriel Venture Partners and included Mellon Ventures Inc., Corning Innovation Ventures, and Alcatel Ventures. Ondax's first round investors included Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) (see Ondax Secures $7.5M Funding Round).

Ondax was founded to commercialize a holographic Bragg grating developed at California Institute of Technology (Caltech). But, like most tunable-filter vendors, it is aiming to get its components into reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers (ROADMs).

The ROADM market is at least a year away, and when it arrives it won't be large enough to sustain all the manufacturers chasing it. The competition includes Avanex Corp. (Nasdaq: AVNX) and JDS Uniphase Corp. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU); MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical system) players LightConnect Inc., Polychromix Inc., and Silicon Light Machines; thin-film operations such as Aegis Semiconductor Inc., Auxora Inc., Micron Optics Inc., and Optoplex Corp.; and other players such as Iolon Inc., Lambda Crossing Ltd. and Xtellus Inc.

That said, many ROADM hopefuls are also looking into the market for optical performance monitoring. "While the market for reconfigurable components is looking for its identity, we started looking at the market for test and measurement," Moser says.

The testing market is where Ondax won its six-figure order, which is about 85 percent completed. In addition to the money, the test-and-measurement order means Ondax can iron out any manufacturing problems, which Moser hopes will give the firm a headstart in the ROADM hunt.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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