PITTSBURGH, March 20 -- Marconi plc, a provider of advanced communications solutions, announced the official launch of Marconi Optical Components with the release of a range of photonic components for next generation high-performance optical networks. The newly launched business already has 300 engineers and scientists dedicated to optical technology and the ability to rapidly re-deploy an additional 1000 Marconi personnel to optical component manufacturing as the business scales, the company said. Through a major investment program, it plans to establish a new 200,000 square foot state-of-the-art manufacturing facility by mid-2002 to reinforce its existing facilities. At this week's Optical Fiber Conference in Anaheim, Calif., the business will demonstrate its product portfolio, which includes wide tuning range and high power tunable lasers; Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) based 10- and 40-Gb/s modulators; and Erbium Doped Fiber Amplifiers. "Through activities at its Caswell laboratories, Marconi has an impressive background in photonic research and development," said John S. Lively, director of Optical Components for RHK Inc. "The achievements so far should position Marconi Optical Components to compete very well at the high end of the optical components performance curve. Marconi should also benefit from its decades of experience in manufacturing electronic components, something few other new entrants to the optical components industry have."