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Posted by Stephen Hardy

Last week's announcement that Ciena will design in a tunable pluggable transceiver from Bookham that doesn't conform to current multisource agreements (MSAs) -- and apparently expects to have a second source deliver similar modules -- raises the question of whether there is going to be a demand for a new MSA. Such an form factor would serve as an interim step down in size between, say, an X2 and an XFP-E.

Why would the industry need such an MSA? Clearly, Ciena wanted to deliver the benefits of tunable pluggables now and couldn't find a supplier capable of meeting its requirements in an XFP-E or smaller form factor. If Ciena is willing to go with a custom size, will its competitors do the same to avoid falling behind?

Yves LeMaitre, VP of telecom sales at Bookham, says there currently aren't MSA discussions focused on his company's device. "At the same time, you are absolutely right about the need for an MSA in the coming two years," he wrote in an email when I posed the question to him. "The value of a tunable-pluggable solution is evident and we believe that the adoption rate will be extremely high amongst optical systems manufacturers."

Unless someone comes up with a tunable X2, XFP, or XFP-E soon, the pressure for a new MSA will rise. The fact that there will be at least two companies making "Ciena-sized" modules might move such an MSA into the development fast lane.

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The Lightwave editorial staff uses The Lightwave Blog to share their thoughts on optical communications and whatever else might be the current topic of conversation from cubicle to cubicle. Feel free to add your own opinions.

Stephen Hardy is editorial director and associate publisher of Lightwave, which makes him responsible for the editorial aspects of the Lightwave franchise. A technology journalist since 1982, he once had his job duties described as "gets paid to tick off advertisers ".

Meghan Fuller is senior editor of Lightwave. She has degrees from Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA, and the University of Delaware and is a card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation.