Optical/IP Networks

The Top Ten Movers and Shakers in Optical Networking

Tunable Tuna

Milton Chang On the face of it, things are going clang! for Chang right now.

New Focus Inc. (Nasdaq: NUFO), one of his companies, is getting kicked around in the public market. It just announced a big loss and is promising more of the same to come (like, thanks, Milt).

Curiously, NUFO has also been slapped with a suit alleging that it used a Jan. 30 press release to inflate its stock price (see New Focus Faces Stock Suit). Looking at its share value today it’s pretty obvious that the alleged helium has long since evaporated (see New Focus Dials Back).

Agility Communications Inc., another of Chang’s companies, faces the opposite problem: It can’t go public, owing to the arctic state of the public market. OMM Inc., another super hot investment of Chang’s, is in the same boat (see OMM).

These are serious snafus – but they are also short-term problems (relatively). Some day the sun will come out, the little birds will go “cheep-cheep-cheep,” and Nasdaq will crawl back up above, say, the 3500 mark. At that point, Chang’s decision to dive in early to tunable laser companies like New Focus and Agility is likely to look very prescient indeed.

Here’s why: Simply, tunable lasers are starting to look like they could be a vital ingredient in next-generation networks (see Tunable Lasers). They can be reconfigured on the fly to provide wavelengths wherever and whenever they’re needed – including switching traffic over the network core. Over time, as prices come down, they could even replace standard transmitters, simplifying network support by acting as one-size-fits-all spare parts.

In other words, tunable lasers could have a multibillion-dollar future. And Chang? He’s the big tuna of the tunable laser market.

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