Agere Systems, Alcatel Optronics and Nortel Networks announces a multi-source agreement (MSA) for compact Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifiers (EDFAs) used in optical networking systems. The agreement establishes a standard that specifies uniformity for product package outlines, pin function definitions, and optical and electrical characteristics. Agere, Alcatel Optronics and Nortel Networks will independently develop and market compact EDFAs based on this standard, ensuring that optical systems manufacturers have a choice among compatible sources.Compact EDFAs offer condensed, small form factor packaging with high flexibility at low cost. These devices target single-channel or narrow-band applications from the metro edge to ultra long haul, and are typically used when a quantity of channels are split off of the main networking path to a switch elsewhere in the network. Compact EDFAs improve system performance by overcoming optical power or attenuation losses inherent with multiplexers or demultiplexers. This adds more flexibility in optical add/drop switch applications, and delivers preamp functionality in receivers to extend the reach of long and ultra long haul systems. "The MSA founder members have created a strong physical standard for these exciting new amplifiers," said Pat Walsh, vice president, Product Line Management, Optical Components, Nortel Networks. "In today's market, it is important that customers have the assurance that these components can be sourced from more than one vendor. This MSA provides an avenue to creating that security of supply." "MSAs have become strategically important for opto-electronic component manufacturers as they secure the implementation of new generation optical platforms for our customers," explained Philippe Bregi, Chief Operating Officer of Alcatel Optronics. "Standardization and integration is key to optimizing the design and lowering the cost of optical systems. It gives flexibility and simplifies system manufacturing. This MSA by three leading optical component vendors is the first real step towards optical amplification standardization and opens the door to many others."Through this multisource agreement, system designers can feel more confident about getting the components they need and being able to incorporate them without costly and time consuming system redesign. Under the terms of the MSA, Agere, Alcatel Optronics and Nortel Networks are expected to manufacture compact EDFAs that conform to specified packaging dimensions and pin functionality, and meet or exceed specified optical and electrical characteristics. The MSA specifications will be made available shortly.