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23 March 2011
Components vendor JDSU announced that shipments of its tunable XFP products exceeded those of its legacy 300-pin transponder for the first time in financial Q2 2011 (October to December 2010).  This marks the beginning of a major shift in the optical transponder market as larger, legacy form factors are replaced with pluggable modules about one quarter of the size.
 
Tunable lasers eliminate inventory management issues with fixed-wavelength modules, and meet the need to adjust wavelengths on the fly, as reconfigurable networks increase in popularity.  However, the tunable XFPs that have shipped so far are to replace fixed-wavelength, C-band XFP modules in metro/regional applications (up to 80km); products to replace the larger 300-pin modules for long-haul transmission are not set to ship until later this year.
 
"Carriers I've spoken to love the tunable XFP," said Andrew Schmitt, directing analyst for optical, Infonetics Research.  He expects the market for tunable XFPs to reach $100m (€71m) in 2012, up from less than $30m (€21m) in 2010, as it replaces both 300-pin and fixed C-band XFPs.
 
JDSU was the first vendor to announce a tunable XFP module in 2009, and the first to ship.  But a number of vendors now offer these compact tunable devices that plug into an XFP-size slot on a line card, including Emcore, Finisar, Fujitsu Optical Components, Menara Networks, Oclaro and Opnext.
 
By Pauline Rigby