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Optical fiber

Information in a laser beam

FAPESP and Padtec search for innovative telecom solutions

padtecOptical fiber: high speed information to meet new market demandspadtec

The optical fiber is a filament of glass or other flexible polymeric material that transports a light signal. It is considered the only technology capable of handling information traffic at high speed  that is compatible with the demand for complex systems involving voice, data and the Internet. This technology moves a world market worth US$ 80 billion within the overall telecommunications business of  US$ 3 trillion. In Brazil, despite the competence accumulated over more than 30 years (see page 24), it is responsible for revenues of  US$ 200 million, within the total revenue of  US$8 billion in telecommunications equipment .  “And it’s still decreasing”, says Jorge Salomão, President of  Padtec S.A., a company whose headquarters are in the Technology Center of the Telecommunications Research and a substantial industrial base.

Padtec, however, is going against the run of the market and growing: it is Brazil’s largest manufacturer of equipment for optical communication and its revenues have doubled every year since 2004. The company, which is a type of  “industrial branch”  of the CPqD, is now betting on the development of technologies and solutions related to optical networks. On June 12, it signed an agreement for a period of five years with FAPESP, worth R$ 40 million, which is being divided between two partners. The agreement was signed as part of the Research in Partnership for Technological Innovation (Pite) program and it aims at supporting research into telecommunications and optical communication and developing human resources. The projects will involve universities and research institutions in São Paulo and will be developed in cooperation with the Padtec team of experts.

The first call for proposals will be able to count on R$ 8 million in funding. “It’s the greatest cooperation agreement between FAPESP and a company ever”, stressed Carlos Henrique de Brito Cruz, Scientific Director of the Foundation during the agreement signing ceremony on June 12,  also attended by the Vice-Governor, Alberto Goldman. “The agreement is ambitious and offers timetables and investments that allow us to do very sophisticated research into this area”, Brito Cruz emphasizes.

The expectation is that the agreement will result in the generation of new technologies for the telecommunications market, which global companies are currently competing for. “The partnership with FAPESP  increases the possibility of developing new products. After all, Brazilian researchers are capable of meeting any challenge in optical communication”, says Hélio Graciosa, Chairman of the CPqD.

The agreement with FAPESP will be a type of catalyst between scientific research and market needs, therefore aligning itself with one of the principles that guide the Foundation’s  actions, that of supporting research connected to its application. “This agreement reveals FAPESP’s strategic role in the development of the economy of  São Paulo and of Brazil”, said Goldman.

The focus of the research projects will be the development of systems using dense wavelength division multiplexing technology, known as DWDM, which consists of transmitting multiple optical channels through a single fiber, thus multiplying its capacity to transmit data in terabytes per second. “The modern Internet requires increasingly higher speed transmission to be efficient”, says Salomão.

Qualified partners
Since its creation in 2001, Padtec has been seeking innovative solutions for the optical communication market and solutions for high performance networks, including metropolitan systems, access and storage. The company is a partner of the major telecommunications operators, public and private concessionaries and systems integrated companies as well as  research institutes, such as the Physics and Engineering research institute at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp).

FAPESP is also supporting various research projects in the optical communication area, such as KyaTera, within the Tidia (Information Technology in the Development of the Advanced Internet) Program, which links dozens of  laboratories in the State via optical fibers (allowing for the development of research into advanced Internet applications) with the Optics and Photonics Research Center (CePOF), in Campinas, one of  11 Centers of Research, Innovation and Dissemination (Cepid). “Today there’s a demand for greater band width and the only answer is optical fiber”, says Brito Cruz. “We’re expecting a strong reaction  and one of great impact from researchers. If we choose the projects well and if one or two result in good products for the market, Padtec will be competitive internationally”,  forecasts Brito.