Chinese optical fiber manufacturers have performed outs […]
Chinese optical fiber manufacturers have performed outstandingly in recent years. In contrast, Chinese optical component manufacturers appear to be very quiet. Silence does not refer to the market. In fact, with the strong investment of the three major operators, the business of Chinese optical component manufacturers is very hot, especially in the access network market with low technical thresholds. However, in the high-end 100G optical devices, backbone network transmission devices and other markets, Chinese manufacturers are very few Morningstar, and their overall strength is far behind the international giants.
Even in the optical access network market, most of the chips for basic PON products are imported from Taiwan or Japan. China is evolving from G/EPON to 10GPON, and chips can only be purchased from outside. Not to mention the more difficult research fields such as photonic integration. The United States and Japan are already far ahead, and there is almost no hope for Chinese optical device manufacturers to catch up in a short time.
The reason is that China has not paid enough attention to photonic chips. The United States launched the "National Photonic Plan" as early as 2015 to guide industry, academia, and research institutions at the government level to support the development of photonic integration technology. In 2016, the United States also established the "Integrated Photonic Manufacturing Innovation Institute" AIM Photonics, which won A total of more than US$610 million in investment funds. No similar institution has been born in China.
The second reason is that Chinese optical device manufacturers are generally small in scale and weak in strength, and it is difficult for them to alone bear the high R&D costs of high-end optical devices and optical chips. There is only one optical component company in China, Accelink, whose sales rank among the top ten in the world. The R&D of optical chips requires a lot of funds. In the absence of a national R&D platform, it is difficult for Chinese optical device manufacturers to complete a large amount of technology accumulation on their own and achieve catch-up with international giants.
The third reason is the investment-to-return ratio of optical chips. Recently, it has been revealed that China has more than 3,000 pen factories that produce more than 40 billion ballpoint pens a year, but 90% of the balls at the core of ballpoint pens rely on imports, which are similar to optical chips. The overall market size of optical chips is not large. If there is not enough motivation to invest heavily in research and development, high risks may not have high returns. There are not many manufacturers willing to be Lei Feng and Cheng Lie.
At present, data centers are being built on a large scale in China and even globally. The interconnection of data centers also relies on optical communications. This is another large-scale market. Some Internet giants have surpassed operators to become the main purchasers of optical communications products.