Optical components

Ciena Tunes In Bookham

A Bookham Inc. (Nasdaq: BKHM; London: BHM) tunable transceiver scored a win with Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN) today, keeping Bookham apparently a step ahead of competition in an area considered crucial to the components vendor's turnaround.

The part in question is the TL8000, a module that's tunable and pluggable. Ciena plans to use the TL8000 all over the place, in platforms including the CoreDirector, CoreStream, and CN 4200. (See Ciena Picks Bookham.)

The module, introduced in February, goes on the line side of telecom equipment -- that is, the side facing the metro or long-haul network, as opposed to the side that points to neighboring gear in the central office.

Part of what makes pluggable interfaces important is their size, small enough to pack four 10-Gbit/s interfaces where only one would fit before, says Jim Zik, senior product marketing manager for Ciena.

But the TL8000 doesn't adhere to any multisource agreements (MSAs), such as the XFP format. It's about twice the size of a regular XFP, but smaller than the older Xenpak specification.

That's a compromise Bookham made in order to pack its tunable transceiver into as small a package as possible. Getting down to an XFP size, and getting those modules up to production volumes, will take another 12 to 18 months, says Yves LeMaitre, Bookham's vice president for telecom sales and corporate marketing.

Bookham isn't the only one working on tunable, pluggable modules. JDSU (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU) made some noise in January about its XFP tunable module, although that's not set to come out until year's end. (See JDSU Gets Tunable & Pluggable and JDSU Heads to OFC.)

Along similar lines, Santur Corp. has been working on integrating tunable lasers with pieces like modulators.

That's part of what makes the Ciena announcement important to Bookham. Aware that a "PowerPoint battle" was emerging, Bookham wanted to record a customer win, to show that the products were real, LeMaitre says.

Bragging rights aren't all that's at stake. Bookham has been in the red since its massive acquisition of the Nortel optical components group, many moons ago. Tunable transmitters give it a shot at leading the pack in something that's cutting-edge, and they're therefore important to Bookham's ongoing turnaround.

"Bookham invested a lot in the tunable technology. It's one of the two pillars of our business," LeMaitre says. (The other is 980nm pump lasers for amplifiers.)

Tunables won't save the day singlehandedly. They don't even represent 10 percent of Bookham's revenues yet. And the company's losses, while not as magnificent as in years past, are expected to last well into 2009.

Table 1: Bookham's Slow Turnaround
Fiscal Year Revenues ($M) Earnings Per Share
2004 158.2 -$5.25
2005 200.3 -$7.43
2006 231.6 -$1.87
2007 202.8 -$1.17
2008* 234.4 -$0.18
2009* 269.9 -$0.04**
Fiscal year ends in June.
* Estimated
** Includes a forecasted profit of 1 cent per share in 4Q09!
Source: Company reports, Reuters

Bookham is Ciena's sole source of tunable pluggables for now, but Ciena is "working with other vendors on the same type of product and format," Zik says. It's not yet been determined whether Ciena will insist that those vendors match the size and shape of Bookham's module.

The other vendors "are not as far ahead as Bookham, let's put it that way," Zik says. "They're not that far behind, either."

Bookham started heavily emphasizing tunables in 2006, when it came out with a tunable laser assembly, a tunable transmitter assembly that incorporated a modulator, and a full-blown tunable transponder module. (See Bookham Launches iTLA and Bookham Storms OFC.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

cw.774 12/5/2012 | 3:36:25 PM
re: Ciena Tunes In Bookham It looks like they were shooting for XFP-e but didn't quite fit the required width in the end.

What's the electrical host i/o? XFP connector?
deer_in_the_light 12/5/2012 | 3:36:25 PM
re: Ciena Tunes In Bookham Why not a Xenpak version ? The picture make it look almost like Xenpak
deer_in_the_light 12/5/2012 | 3:36:22 PM
re: Ciena Tunes In Bookham Must be an XFI to operate at 10G.
bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 3:36:20 PM
re: Ciena Tunes In Bookham I thought Bookham was one of the optical component scam compnaies - have they ever made a profit ?
deauxfaux 12/5/2012 | 3:36:18 PM
re: Ciena Tunes In Bookham Never ever made a profit in over 17 years of operation....Have burned through $1,200,000,000

What a mess
cw.774 12/5/2012 | 3:36:17 PM
re: Ciena Tunes In Bookham not much more than ex-NT HPOC optics (aka Bookham) guy at Ciena finding meaningful projects for buddies that remained at the alma matter.

Bookham started with it's hart in the right place. Did great optical manufacturing and production things, but as in the bubble era... the swindlers got in on it and made it feel dirty.
whyiswhy 12/5/2012 | 3:36:17 PM
re: Ciena Tunes In Bookham Profit for insiders, company or investors? Insiders: yea, multi-bags-full per SEC filings. Company: never that I am aware of, again per filings.

Wonder if the old insider game of you pump, I'll dump (and screw-em if JQ public can't take a joke) is at play here? Just a question.

Products and technology seem to be good. What is amazing is the doors are still open and the stock is still trading.

^Eagle^ 12/5/2012 | 3:36:13 PM
re: Ciena Tunes In Bookham Stanley,

curious minds would like to know. Who at Ciena is an ex NT HBOC alum? Clearly you are more aware of the resume's of some of the decision makers.

would be interesting and useful information I think for many of us on this board.


DZED 12/5/2012 | 3:29:47 PM
re: Ciena Tunes In Bookham 'Bookham started with it's hart in the right place. Did great optical manufacturing and production things, but as in the bubble era... the swindlers got in on it and made it feel dirty.'

Nope, Rickman was the biggest scammer of all.

The exec tram has turned over twice now, as have all the other staff. Its not the same company any more.
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