ONI Systems Corp. announced the opening of its latest optical networking research facility in Montreal on Monday.

The Lightwave Design Centre, which features an optical research laboratory, will conduct R&D and develop manufacturing test solutions for ONI’s line of optical networking products.

The San Jose, Calif.-based company designs optical networking equipment that addresses service and bandwidth limitations of regional and metropolitan networks. Pro-business support and R&D tax incentives precipitated the expansion into Canada, according to ONI.

“ONI has been very successful in recruiting engineers from Montreal who transferred to our San Jose plant. Naturally a lot of these engineers welcome a return to their hometown,” said Andy Page, vice-president of business development at ONI.

In light of the recent downturn in the telecommunications industry, ONI is adamant that the Montreal venture will be a successful one.

Companies such as Nortel and Lucent have a diversified portfolio of products and most of those markets are in decline, he noted. ONI specifically targets the metropolitan networks market that is currently one of the fastest growth sectors, according to Page.

Metropolitan area networks, or MANs, are data networks designed for towns or cities, run on high-speed connections primarily using fibre optic cables.

The Centre’s opening represents a boon to Montreal’s technical job market and marks ONI’s further expansion into international markets. It will employ approximately 50 people over the next year, with the opportunity to more than double the workforce by 2003.

ONI Systems Corp. can be reached at http://www.oni.com.

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