Impact of US Technology Ban on ZTE

On April 16, the United States Department of Commerce announced that ZTE would no longer be allowed to import American technology products. This order represents a reinstatement of a previous order first issued in March 2016 and creates many issues for ZTE, its customers, and suppliers.

While there is no shortage of media coverage of the ban, Cignal AI aims to provide you with unique insight. We have assembled our observations and conclusions on this remarkable event, and we share answers to some common questions we’ve received as it has transpired.

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OFC 2018 – Coherent Technology

Trends in coherent technology generated enthusiasm among the participants at OFC 2018, and 400G ZR applications were of particular interest. Nokia and Infinera outlined next-generation coherent roadmaps, and Acacia and NTT Electronics showcased silicon fresh back from the fab. Many component companies announced smaller, lower cost devices to enable new WDM applications. In this report, Cignal AI examines OFC 2018’s coherent technology announcements and their implications.
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OFC 2018 – Consolidation

Each year, there is at least one announcement at OFC which surprises the industry. In 2016, the announcement was the introduction of Inphi’s ColorZ, while in 2017 it was news of Ciena choosing to license the Wavelogic DSP to module vendors. And yet, OFC2018 delivered a surprise that exceeded both: Lumentum will acquire Oclaro.
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Investor Call – Piper Jaffray Optical Event

Andrew Schmitt was the featured speaker on an investor call hosted by Troy Jensen of Piper Jaffray on February 21st. Forty-four participants listened in and posed their questions as Andrew gave his perspective on the latest events in the optical component and equipment market.

Topics during the call included:

  • Anticipated impact of China’s MIIT plan on existing component suppliers
  • The divergence in Chinese equipment revenue and supply chain
  • The market outlook for ROADMs in 2018
  • The 400G+ Coherent DSP and component outlook
  • The evolution of the CFP2-ACO and DCO market
  • Analysis of equipment companies outsourcing DSPs
  • Update on Inphi’s ColorZ, modulator driver, and PAM-4 business
  • Infinera’s market opportunity with the CX2 and ICE4 based products
  • North American CapEx in 2018 and optical equipment forecast
  • Ciena’s 400G market monopoly in 2018

Active Insight clients can access a summary of the key takeaways, a written transcript, an audio replay, and participate in Q&A.

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China’s 5 Year Optical Component Plan

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) released a five-year plan in December 2017 outlining a roadmap for commercial and technological progress in a broad set of optical technologies. The 63-page document is in Chinese. The following Cignal AI report is based on a professionally translated version of the document and summarizes the section of the plan about the Chinese optical component industry.

The goals and objectives outlined in the plan are exceptionally ambitious and should concern incumbent component vendors. This document outlines strategic rather than rational economic objectives to catalyze market progress in Chinese component companies. Our interpretation is that this will increase the number of non-rational economic actors participating in the component market.

If executed, this plan will greatly increase the level of competition in an already fractured industry.  It will also reduce or in some cases eliminate access for western component vendors to the largest market for optical communications components in the world – China.

Electronic copies of the source MIIT document as well as the translated version of the section on optical components are available to clients for download.

Chinese PDF English PDF

 

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Analysis: 1H17 Cloud and Colo Spending Slowdown

Cignal AI’s recent Optical Customer Markets Report discovered an unexpected weakness in 2017 optical transport equipment spending from cloud & colo operators (see Cignal AI Reports Unexpected Drop in Cloud and Colo Spending). This surprising trend was then further supported by public comments later made by Juniper and Applied Optoelectronics, prompting us to examine the situation in greater detail.

This detailed brief includes:

  • Cloud & colo spending as defined by Cignal AI
  • Analysis of quarterly spending trends by cloud & colo operators
  • Recent shifts in market share among equipment vendors to this market
  • Quantitative analysis of underlying causes of this slowing, including price compression and displacement by IPoDWDM via Inphi, Acacia, and Oclaro components

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ECOC2017 – Coherent 100G+

ECOC is one of the most significant conferences in optical networking worldwide. This year’s conference was held in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the event was well attended by the engineering community, as the conference trends heavy on technology and light on marketing. We at Cignal AI like ECOC because it gives us another opportunity to converse with the folks directly responsible for charting the technical roadmap of upcoming optical systems.

In this first of several ECOC briefs, we share some of our findings on the changing trends in coherent optics. Subsequent briefs will explore China and client optics.

  • CFP2-ACO Outlook – The ACO market is going away; what this means
  • Silicon Photonics – Searching for the killer app
  • Inphi ColorZ – Moving downmarket to grow volume
  • 400G ZR – Examining investment risk and rewards
  • Acacia CFP2-DCO – Market Feedback

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OFC 2017 – Coherent Technology

400G Coherent and Beyond
Ciena had a blockbuster announcement at OFC 2017, but there was plenty of other interesting news to feast on. Cignal AI’s key takeaways concerning coherent WDM include:

  • The outlook for 200G and CFP2-ACO volumes in 2017
  • Opinions on Ciena WaveLogic Ai Licensing
  • The roadmap review for 400G/600G & Acacia Pico
  • Sizing the risk and reward for the 400G ZR market

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OFC 2017 – Inside the Datacenter

100G and the Road to 400G

The transition to 100G network speeds inside the data center is underway at every major hyperscale operator simultaneously, creating major industry bottlenecks. Despite QSFP28 being supply constrained, component and equipment suppliers are also trying to align on the next generation format for 400G operation. Cignal AI’s key takeaways from OFC 2017 with regard to data center optics include:

  • Updates on QSFP28 supply and demand
  • Alternative facts on both sides of the Octal SFP (OSFP) vs. QSFP DD debate
  • Impact of QSFP28 on CFP/CFP2 client demand
  • 400G CFP8 and 200G QSFP observations and outlook

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Investor Call – OFC 2017 Takeaways

Andrew Schmitt provided key OFC 2017 takeaways during an investor call hosted by Troy Jensen of Piper Jaffray. Sixty-seven investors participated. Topics of interest included:

  • Impact of Ciena’s Wavelogic AI DSP Licensing
  • Outlook for Coherent Port Shipments in China During 2017
  • Market Outlook for CFP2-ACO/DCO and QSFP28 Markets
  • Potential Vertical Integration by Intel or InPhi
  • Timing of Metro Coherent and ROADM deployment in China
  • Chinese SARFT Capex Guidance
  • Roadmap for 400G and 600G Coherent
  • Observations on Infinera, Ciena, Acacia, Oclaro, and Neophotonics

Following is a summary of the key takeaways, as well as a full transcript of the discussion. Cignal AI clients can also listen to an audio replay.

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LIGHTWAVE: Inphi to buy coherent DSP developer ClariPhy for $275M

Lightwave quotes Andrew Schmitt in its article regarding the acquisition of Clariphy Communications by Inphi:

Andrew Schmitt, founder and lead analyst at Cignal AI, believes that Inphi may not be comprehensive enough to take full advantage of its pending new assets. In particular, combining optical components (which Inphi currently doesn’t have) with the ClariPhy DSPs to create modules and other subsystems would make a stronger play, Schmitt believes.

“Strategically, I think it makes sense for someone like Inphi,” Schmitt said on a Piper Jaffrey analyst call earlier this year in regard to a potential Inphi/ClariPhy tie up. “I would argue that it makes more sense for an optical component company to take that approach – someone like an Oclaro, an NEL Photonics, or a Finisar. Because then they can, in essence, deploy the same model that Acacia has deployed. That is, being able to closely couple all the optics and the DSP to sell a full subsystem. Whereas Inphi can’t really do that.”

Investor Call – China 2017, CFP2-ACO, Coherent DSPs

Andrew Schmitt gave an update on the optical equipment and component market during an investor call hosted by Troy Jensen of Piper Jaffray on Tuesday, October 4. Sixty-eight investors participated. An extended Q&A session followed Andrew’s presentation, and topics of interest included:

  • China 100G port volume trends for 2H16 and 2017
  • Huawei’s upcoming 100G technology decisions and supplier purchasing shifts
  • CFP2-ACO shipments and the component & equipment supply chain for this product
  • Coherent DSP R&D developments and supplier updates
  • Updates on direct-detect 100G and PAM-4 development
  • Observations on Infinera, Ciena, Acacia, Inphi, and Clariphy and discussion of potential M&A activity

Following is a summary of the key takeaways, as well as a full transcript of the discussion. Cignal AI clients can also listen to an audio replay.

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ECOC 2016 Notes and Observations

Andrew Schmitt presented at the ECOC (European Conference for Optical Communications) in Dusseldorf, Germany during the week of Sept. 19. No time was wasted during the trip as Andrew fit in well over 30 scheduled meetings with component and equipment suppliers and end users of optical hardware.

The meetings were very productive and we gained new insight in several areas:

  • Huawei’s plans to transition to 100G CFP-DCO technology and what will follow
  • Updates on vendor selection and R&D in coherent DSPs
  • Details on the ongoing ramp in CFP2-ACO and the development of this new market
  • Overview of 400G market development
  • More insight into Nokia’s China Mobile optical design win

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Investor Call – China, CFP2-ACO, ROADMs & More

Andrew Schmitt created some excitement when he spoke about optical component and equipment market trends on a Piper Jaffray investor call on April 22. 83 investor clients were on the line, and some insightful questions were posed to Andrew as he gave his observations on a wide range of topics. The following is a full transcript of that discussion.
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