DiCon and the Fiberoptic Industry



DiCon Fiberoptics: Our Vision and Strategy

DiCon Fiberoptics was founded in June 1986, when the fiberoptics industry was in the midst of establishing itself as the next-generation wireline technology and a superior alternative to the copper-wire communications network.

DiCon was well positioned to seize this early opportunity to become one of the largest suppliers of passive components for the fiberoptics industry. The company established an effective infrastructure to develop, manufacture and market optical components. Our original strategy was fourfold:
  1. Identify commercially viable technologies that could be used cost-effectively by the communications systems providers in the development of their optical networks.
  2. Invest in the implementation of these technologies to produce new and high-quality products on a timely basis and capture superior profit margins.
  3. Market the new products, which provide greater customer benefits in the form of increased capacity and/or lower cost per data bit.
  4. Generate superior returns from the original investment and re-deploy new capital into the development of new technology and value-added products.
Since its formation, DiCon has been successful in implementing this original strategy by generating a continuous stream of new products based on successive waves of internally-developed technologies. In 1986, the company developed its first-generation mechanical switch and immediately began marketing the product. For the next six years this line generated significant cash flows and profits for DiCon. In fact, even today, new generation opto-mechanical switches represent an important segment of the company's product portfolio. In 1990, DiCon began production of optical test equipment, which represented a value-added measurement product based on our original mechanical switch technology.

In 1992, DiCon started developing new dielectric thin-film-based components, which gave rise to a generation of optical components that could, with minimal insertion or polarization loss, multiplex and de-multiplex groups of different wavelengths on an optical fiber and improve the performance of optical amplifiers. In 1996, DiCon developed its own thin-film coating capability. The company has maintained its leading-edge position in advancing this technology since that time.

The new line of DWDM components, including single-channel and band-pass filters, Gain Flattening Filters (GFFs), and OADMs, produced new and significant sources of revenue for DiCon and laid a foundation for the development of another group of value-added products. The company leveraged its success in the application of the new thin-film technology to manufacture a series of advanced measurement and testing devices such as tunable filters and motorized variable attenuators.

DiCon also entered the new field of optical modules. Modules are devices that combine a number of discrete components mounted together with controlling electronics to perform a complex task. Communications systems providers sought to reduce their operating costs by having optical components manufacturers produce modules instead of individual components. Optical components manufacturers in turn were able to leverage their expertise and capitalize on this value-added development opportunity. DiCon was no exception. By 2002, DiCon's product catalog featured an array of modules including multi-channel Optical Add-Drop Multiplexers (OADM), VOA-MUX/DMUX and Dynamic Gain/Band/Power Equalizers (DGE/DBE/DPE) modules. In addition to our catalog module offerings, DiCon is also able to quickly develop custom modules and integrated solutions for our customers, based on a highly reliable and low-cost electronics and firmware platform.

In 1996, DiCon began developing its MEMS technology. By 2001, the company began marketing its first MEMS product, a MEMS VOA. By 2002 our product catalog featured several MEMS-based products such as MEMS VOAs, MEMS On/Off Switches, MEMS 1x2 Switches, MEMS 2x2 Add/Drop Switches, MEMS Band WDM/VOA Hybrids and MEMS Tap/VOA Hybrids, all based on our single-axis tilt mirror MEMS chip. DiCon's MEMS devices are fabricated completely in-house, in our state-of-the-art MEMS fab.

DiCon has also developed a two-axis "3D" tilt mirror MEMS chip. This device is used in our line of 1xN MEMS Switches. DiCon is currently in volume production of 1x4 and 1x8 MEMS Switches, and is also producing 1x12, 1x16, and 1x24 MEMS switches for use in our custom integrated solutions. We offer a broad range of MxN MEMS Switch Matrices, in both module and chassis form, integrated from our 1xN MEMS Switches. DiCon's MEMS Switch Matrices can be integrated in almost any configuration and matrix size, and can include such features as broadcast, multicast, and attenuation/equalization.

DiCon continues to invest significant R&D resources in the development of new technologies. This work is conducted in our multi-million dollar Photronics Center. (The name Photronics is derived from the combination of photonics and electronics.)