NEC, Hitachi Ink Optical Networking Alliance

Furthering an alliance that began with memory chips, NEC and Hitachi have agreed to work together to develop next generation optical networking systems.

The two companies, both already major manufacturers of optical and conventional networking equipment, will collaborate on project planning and establish joint research teams to drive the development of new products, according to a statement. The products to result from the alliance are expected to be rolled out sometime between April and September next year.

The work will concentrate on equipment that forms the backbone of high speed telecommunication and data communication networks, including dense wavelength division multiplexing (DWDM) systems, Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) /Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH) optical transmission systems, ultra-long haul repeater systems, optical cross-connect systems and network management systems.

The alliance was born out of a wish to gain a larger market share in the North American optical networking market, said Akiko Shikimori, a spokeswoman for NEC in Tokyo.

"Between 80 and 90 percent of the market is North American and if we want to succeed we must do well there," she said. "We expect other markets, such as Europe, to grow but North America will always be the largest market."

The alliance announced Thursday is expected to be just the first part of a larger alliance in the telecommunications arena between NEC and Hitachi, the companies said. It follows the establishment of Elpida Memory Inc., a recently re-named joint venture between NEC and Hitachi that has pooled development and production of memory chips.

Further cooperation in other areas was not ruled out by either company. "Once we have succeeded in making a good networking product we will consider more cooperation," said Shikimori.

NEC, in Tokyo, can be found online at

Hitachi, in Tokyo, can be found online at

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