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21st January 2013
 
Alcatel-Lucent has acquired Capella Intelligent Subsystems, the wavelength-selective switch (WSS) company. WSS subsystems are used at the heart of reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexers (ROADMs) to switch and monitor light at metro network nodes.

The acquisition was made late last year with little fanfare. 
 
"We acquired a handful of employees with unique photonic systems expertise that will allow us to immediately enhance our WDM transport solutions,” said an Alcatel-Lucent spokesperson. 
 
However, the system vendor would not detail how many staff had been acquired or confirm whether Capella had already stopped operating before the acquisition.
 
Capella raised $20 million (€15 million) of funding in April 2011. One of the investors was SingTel Innov8, the investment arm of the operator SingTel. Capella also worked on a technology demonstration with Verizon's R&D lab. The switch player said in 2011 that it had thousands of its WSS products deployed in networks.
 
Capella's products include two 1x9 and a 1x20 WSS modules. The WSSes are compact, athermal designs based on MEMS technology.  At the core is a solid-state “engine”, and five photonic-integrated-circuit components are used overall. The R&D goal was to achieve further integration using silicon photonics although the company admitted that such a design was still several years away. 
 
In the end Capella struggled to compete with WSS market leaders JDSU and Finisar. These market leaders have the breadth of expertise and the optical components needed to design complete ROADM cards. Finisar demonstrated a ROADM line card at ECOC 2012 that it had designed for Cisco Systems.
 
Oclaro is another player with the technologies needed to design ROADM line cards. Oclaro acquired WSS vendor Xtellus in 2009.
 
By Roy Rubenstein