ALLENTOWN, Pa., Feb. 23 -- Lucent Technologies' Microelectronics Group has agreed to form a joint venture with privately held DiCon Fiberoptics Inc., a Berkeley, Calif.-based supplier of passive optical components. The agreement calls for the joint venture -- LD Fiberoptics LLC -- to develop a new family of integrated passive optical components. Lucent is to have 51 percent equity ownership of the joint venture and DiCon, 49 percent. LD Fiberoptics will be located in a new facility in Richmond, Calif. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The demand for passive optical components continues to grow rapidly while the industry's ability to efficiently manufacture these components has until now remained at a virtual standstill, commented Dan DiLeo, president of the optoelectronics division of Lucent's Microelectronics Group. We were the first to introduce an unprecedented level of automation for optical components to the industry more than three years ago, and are now extending our expertise to include passive components. Our joint venture with DiCon will enable the industry's next-generation high-volume, low-cost automated platform for these critical optical networking components in a capacity-constrained market. Lucent and DiCon first entered into a joint-development agreement in September 1999. That agreement allowed the two companies to begin automating the production of a new family of highly integrated, multi-functional passive components for use in fiber amplifier applications. The companies indicated that the formation of LD Fiberoptics is the next step toward establishing the manufacturing infrastructure needed to introduce these new products to the market by the fall of 2000.