Optical components

Poll Reflects Optical Risks

ANAHEIM, Calif. – OFC/NFOEC 2005 – Early returns from this month's Light Reading work poll indicate readers are feeling glum about the prospects for optical careers.

Among the first handful of respondents, 82 percent believe the optical components job market is a risky place to be, and 69 percent say they wouldn't recommend an optics career to an engineering undergrad.

The results reflect the tough conditions described by executives at this week's Optical Fiber Communication Conference (OFC). Losses are continuing for many firms while prices stay stubbornly low. And some of the larger players are having a hard time shucking the high-cost infrastructure left over from the bubble (see Components Competition Is Killing).

OFC is offering some glimmers of hope, as vendors cram into the passive optical network (PON) market, sensing the potential of a large-volume business. And it's true that components startups have been raising money lately, albeit in mostly small doses. (See PON Is King at OFC, FTTP Gets Plenty of Airtime , Optical Funding Lives!, and Agility Snares Another $15M.)

Still, of the poll respondents working at optical components firms, more than half believe their company isn't long for this world. Forty-six percent think their employer will shut down or be acquired in the next 12 months or so, while another 8 percent are stunned that this hasn't already happened.

Want to voice your opinion? The poll will be open until April 1 -- no fooling -- at this link.

— Craig Matsumoto, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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