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Submarine pump laser deal boost for Bookham

Better news for the optoelectronic component company as key fiber-optic system vendor Tyco Communications chooses Bookham's 980 nm laser pump modules for a submarine network upgrade.

Fiber-optic system vendor Tyco Communications has chosen Bookham as the lead supplier of pump laser modules for a new deployment of erbium-doped fiber amplifiers (EDFAs).

Bookham s 980 nm pumps, manufactured at the US company s GaAs chip facility in Zurich, Switzerland, are able to emit more than 400 mW. Previously owned by Nortel and JDSU, over 350,000 laser pumps made at the Zurich plant have now been deployed around the world.

The EDFAs that incorporate the pump lasers form repeaters which amplify optical signals in long-distance fiber-optic cables. These submarine cables are used to carry intercontinental telecommunications traffic.

The repeater components are upgraded periodically, meaning that demand for the GaAs chips required is extremely cyclical. Mark Ives, the director responsible for Bookham s pump laser unit, explained how the company copes with that challenge:

"[There are] potentially high requalification and start-up costs for dedicated undersea production lines. The ability to apply the Bookham 980 nm pump technology to both terrestrial and submarine systems enables continuous production, resulting in cost savings."

Tyco, which has deployed the Bookham chip technology in its optical networks since 1999, will be using the firm s "OceanBright" lasers for the forthcoming deployment.

The supply deal is good news for Bookham, which is about to be hit by an abrupt downturn in demand from Nortel, traditionally its key customer (see related story).

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