Infinera Corporation
Traded as NASDAQ: INFN
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 2000 as Zepton Networks
Headquarters Sunnyvale, CA, US
Key people
Tom Fallon (CEO); David F. Welch (President).
Products Networking systems and products

Infinera Corporation is a vertically integrated manufacturer of long-haul Wavelength division multiplexing (WDM) optical transmission equipment for the telecommunications service provider market. It was a pioneer in design and manufacture of large scale photonic integrated circuits (PICs).

Headquartered in Sunnyvale, California, the company sells data communications equipment to network operators building the global infrastructure that underpins the Internet. The company’s systems can send large amounts of data on optical fiber cables.


Infinera was founded in 2000 as Zepton Networks by Drew Perkins, Jagdeep Singh and David Welch.

It raised its first round of funding in April 2001.[1] The startup remained in stealth mode until its first products were launched in 2004, although a few early media articles did describe the company's component technology - a photonic integrated circuit in indium phosphide.[2]

Underwritten by Goldman Sachs, Infinera went public on the NASDAQ in 2007, raising $182 million.[3]

David Welch was recognized in 2013 with the JJ Thomson Medal for Electronics, an award from the Institution of Engineering and Technology for his role as a pioneer in the field of optical devices and optical networks, including PICs.[4][5]

In August 2015, Infinera acquired Transmode, a supplier of metro packet-optical networking solutions based in Stockholm, Sweden (following an offer made in April 2015).[6] Transmode shareholders receiving a mix of cash and Infinera shares, giving a total equity value for Transmode of about $350 million.[7][8][9]

Today, the company has its own fab in Sunnyvale, with component packaging occurring in Allentown, Pennsylvania, plus the former Transmode facility in Stockholm. For many of its products, Infinera designs and manufactures in-house the photonic integrated circuits (PICs), the ASIC chips, and the hardware and software systems, including operating and management systems and software-defined network (SDN) software to extend network virtualization into the optical layer. The company refers to its combined component development, product development and system manufacturing as vertically integrated.


Industry overview

Optical networking equipment carries information using light waves via fiber optic cables. With the advent of wavelength-division multiplexing (WDM) systems, larger amounts of data are transmitted by using multiple wavelengths over a single optical fiber. Network operators deploy WDM systems to carry communications between continents, across countries, between cities and within large metropolitan areas. Growth in bandwidth-intensive services – like streaming high-definition videos, the proliferation of mobile broadband and the growth of Cloud-based services – is driving the need for increased bandwidth. Optical networking is one solution for supporting growing bandwidth requirements. Network operators compete by delivering differentiated services; to do so, they need to scale their networks to create rich end-user experiences based on efficient high bandwidth transport.

Infinera products

Infinera has pioneered design and manufacture of large scale photonic integrated circuits (PICs).[10] Over 300 patents have been filed by Infinera[11][12] in fields including optical transport and virtualization of optical bandwidth.

In March 2011, Infinera announced "500,000 hours of failure free operation worldwide". The company claims that its PIC technology has never failed in a customer network.[13][14]

The production efficiency of using monolithic integration with PIC has permitted Infinera to build large super-channel cards with capacity of 500 gigabit/second. In 2015, it announced Facebook had deployed an Infinera Intelligent Transport Network to light the world's longest terrestrial optical network route (3,998km), capable of delivering up to eight terabits per second of data transmission capacity (equivalent to streaming one million high-def videos simultaneously).[15]

This large throughput may be in excess of actual carrier requirements. Infinera has changed its business model to permit purchase of a 500 Gbit/s. line card by a carrier, but only switch on capacity in 100 Gb/second units of capacity. The company refers to this pricing model as "Cashflow-Efficient Instant Bandwidth" and has trademarked the term. The company's technology road map projects linecards' throughput to scale to 4 terabit and beyond.[16]

Business strategy

Its business strategy has been based upon introduction of leading edge speeds, initially with 10 Gb/second, and as of 2013, 100 Gb/second and 500 Gb/second based upon Superchannels (or combining channels). These higher speed offerings are referred to as coherent super-channels. These higher level speeds are enabled by the use of Photonic Integrated Circuits (PIC) which combine digital circuitry and photonic circuitry in a hybrid multi-layer (3-D) component.[10] PIC changes the manageability of optical networking: it has four major benefits: (1) PIC is smaller taking up less room in equipment cabinets than the traditional approach of having separate optical and electronic circuitry (a significant issue in retrofitting terrestrial and the 550,000 miles of submarine networks),[17][18] (2) it provides for lower energy consumption, (3) the integration permits the provision of real time virtualization of optical bandwidth,[19] and (4) purchasers can buy service ready capacity in large chunks, only pay for the capacity switched on, purchase and switch on unused capacity in 100 Gb/Sec increments without additional equipment installation eliminating the normal costs of service engineers and time delays.

Real time virtualization of bandwidth represents a relatively new capability in optical transport networks. Previously, engineers would have to physically reconfigure equipment to provide for reallocation of bandwidth to different customers channels or services. Provisioning is exceptionally fast with PIC and virtualization. On August 14, 2013, DANTE [20](Delivery of Advanced Networks to Europe, a research and educational network) and Infinera claimed that they had set a Guinness World Records by provisioning 8 Terabit/second of long haul capacity on the GÉANT network in 19 minutes and 1 second using its DTN-X packet optical transport platform from Vancis Amsterdam in the Netherlands to GlobalConnect Hamburg, Germany.[21][22]

Infinera is a vertically integrated company. It has its own fab in Sunnyvale, CA with component packaging occurring in Allentown, PA. Infinera designs and manufactures everything from the ASIC chips to the complete hardware and software systems in-house.


Infinera reports that it had deployed its systems to 126 customers[23] worldwide (as of January, 2014).[24] Customers included Tier 1 domestic carriers, Tier 1 international carriers, MSO/cable operators, Internet content providers, incumbent carriers, research/education/government, and wholesale bandwidth providers. As of January 29, 2014, 20 of its customers had adopted its DTN-X 500 Gbit/s capable product.


Infinera's major direct competitors are Alcatel-Lucent, Ciena Corp., Cisco, Ericsson, Huawei Technologies and ZTE.

Major players in the more broadly defined optical market according to technology consulting firms (e.g. ACG[25]) that track the space include Adtran, ADVA, BTI, Cisco, Coriant, Cyan, ECI Telecom, Fujitsu, MRV, NEC, Tejas and Fibrolan.


See also


  1. Zepton Has an $86M War Chest, Light Reading, 14 December 2001. Accessed: 12 August 2015.
  2. The Light Brigade appeared in Red Herring in 2002. Archived June 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. Infinera Corp. IPO raises $182 million, above range, Reuters, 6 June 2007. Accessed: 12 August 2015.
  4. Infinera's Dr. David Welch Receives Prestigious Engineering Award From Institution of Engineering and Technology (Infinera news release), 20 November 2013. Accessed: 12 August 2015.
  5. Infinera Co-founder Receives Engineering Award,, 20 November 2013. Accessed: 12 August 2015
  6. Morris, Iain (9 April 2015). "Infinera Makes $350M Offer for Sweden's Transmode". Light Reading. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  7. Transmode Shareholders Accept Infinera Buyout Offer NASDAQ RTT News, 14 August 2015. Retrieved: 24 September 2015.
  8. "Transmode shareholders OK Infinera deal". 14 August 2015. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  9. "Transmode Shareholders Approve Infinera Takeover". Light Reading. 12 August 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  10. 1 2 Greene, Kate (January 1, 2007). "World's Fastest Optical Chip". MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 12 August 2015.
  11. "Results of Search in US Patent Collection db for: Infinera: 340 patents.". US Patent Database. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  12. Google patent search on 12 August 2015 revealed 189; Freshpatents search for years 2009-2015, up to 12 August 2015, found 278 results.
  14. Infinera Named Second Fastest-Growing Tech Company in North America (Infinera news release), 12 November 2009. Accessed 12 August 2015.
  15. Kassner, MIchael (April 15, 2015). "Facebook's data center connection to the terrestrial long-distance record". TechRepublic. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  16. Photonic Integration (Infinera white paper), 2013. Accessed 12 August 2015.
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