Communications networks have a ravenous appetite for capacity, flexibility and reliability. For optical networks operating at data rates of up to 10 Gb/s, a full plate of components is needed for them to live up to their full potential. This includes wavelength stabilized lasers, modulators, multiplexers and demultiplexers, switches, dispersion compensators, amplifiers and receivers. In the past, components based on indium phosphide (InP) had a monopoly on fiber optic communications -- this has come to an end. For those who would become players the stakes have increased: Expertise across a wide technology base has become the price of entry.