Finisar's Broadway Dabbled in WDM-PON
When Finisar Corp. (Nasdaq: FNSR) acquired EPON transceiver vendor Broadway Networks last week, it bought a piece of WDM-PON heritage as well. (See Finisar Goes on a Spree.)
WDM-PON was Broadway's first love when it was founded in 2006, says Kent Godfrey, a partner with Pond Venture Partners Ltd. and the only venture capitalist on the startup's board.
Alas, that love didn't last long.
"After about a year and a half building a product for that market, it was clear WDM-PON was just too far in the future," Godfrey says.
That's not a surprising conclusion. Even supporters of WDM-PON will tell you the technology is going to take a while to reap rewards. (See Verizon: WDM-PON Still Sounds Expensive.)
Seeking a change of direction, Broadway hired a new CEO: Jianhui Zhou, once the vice president in charge of China operations at Ciena Corp. (NYSE: CIEN). A former denizen of Bell Labs , Zhou had been acquired into Ciena while serving at ONI Systems.
From that point, Broadway worked on the products that eventually got it acquired -- in particular, the EPON Stick, an optical transceiver in the small-form pluggable (SFP) format. The Stick integrates an Ethernet Media Access Controller (MAC) chip made by Teknovus, which was acquired by Broadcom Corp. (Nasdaq: BRCM) in March. (See Broadcom to Acquire Teknovus.)
That chip makes the Stick a standalone EPON optical network unit (ONU), Broadway claims. One use for it, according to a source at another transceiver vendor, could be to put EPON ports on installed TDM-based gear.
The Broadway product was getting deployed in North America and China, Zhou tells Light Reading via email. Hitachi Communication Technologies America Inc. (Hitachi-CTA) was a customer, and Broadway was also producing an EPON transceiver for the Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) ISR 890 in China.
But the gross margins of around 25 percent weren't going to be enough for Broadway to grow. "In the US, it was a little bit bigger, but most of the business was going to be in China and Taiwan," Godfrey says.
Once Broadway was approached by one prospective buyer (it wasn't Finisar), Godfrey and the board decided that selling Broadway into a bigger company was a good option.
Broadway has already developed a GPON variant of the EPON stick, a Finisar spokesman tells Light Reading via email. That product uses a GPON chip, naturally, though Finisar isn't saying which vendor Broadway tapped for that development.
— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading