According to the ’016 patent, passive optical networks (PONs) are part of the architecture in “fiber-to-the-premises” (FTTP) fiber-optic networks. In contrast to active optical networks, the PON uses passive components, such as optical splitters, isolators, circulators, and filters, that do not require electrical power to operate. The PON receives and transmits optical signals between a central source, called an optical line terminal (OLT), and a number of optical network units (ONU). These OLTs and ONUs utilize the bidirectional communication provided by the PON to provide high bandwidth data transmission to the subscribers of a fiber-optic system (FiOS). The ’016 patent discloses a photonic integrated circuit (PIC), formed on a semiconductor substrate, that can be used as a transceiver for either OLTs or ONUs.
According to its website, Infinera’s PIC technology provides a bandwidth of hundreds of gigabits per second and has been demonstrated in the lab to be capable of 1.6 terabits per second. Infinera’s website also includes many videos, podcasts, and presentations that explain various aspects of optical networks and their components. A presentation about photonic integration makes a strong case for the benefits of PICs and digital optical networks mirroring the advances already made possible by electrical integrated circuits in digital electronics.
Infinera’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, Dr. David Welch, has been announced to be the recipient of the 2011 John Tyndall Award from the Optical Society of America and the IEEE Photonics Society for his “seminal contributions to photonic integrated circuits (PICs) and semiconductor lasers deployed in fiber optic communication systems around the world.” The award will be presented at the upcoming “Optical Fiber Conference” in Los Angeles in March.
According to the company’s 2010 annual report, as of December 26, 2009, Infinera owned 115 U.S. patents and 139 pending U.S. patent applications. A recent search of the USPTO database shows 130 U.S. patents that have issued to Infinera, with 30 in 2009 and 24 in 2010.