LightTrends Newsletter

Microsoft’s sudden appetite for hollow core fiber

December 2022

By Stéphane Téral

We never anticipated this one! On December 9, 2022, Microsoft acquired hollow core fiber (HCF) U.K.-based specialist Lumenisity, which in 2017 was spun off the University of Southampton’s Optoelectronics Research Centre. It’s worth nothing that Lumenisity had raised a total of £12.5M in funding over 2 rounds: the first one in September 2020 and the second in July 2021. Given the cost of manufacturing capabilities including a fiber draw tower, an in-house R&D team, and on-site metrology and testing, this amount does not sound like that much. What about the cabling of the HCF?

WELL, NOW IT’S MICROSOFT’S PROBLEM

After all, it may be a nice problem to have! Although we totally understood the rationale for the Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch acquisitions in early 2020 as well as the transfer of AT&T’s 5G core technology and expertise last year, we are somewhat puzzled about this one. Why in the world, a giant multinational technology corporation that develops, produces, and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, cloud networking and other related services would buy a fiber optic startup? Is Microsoft entering the fiber optic business?

For instance, if one day we wake up and find in the news that Meta acquires Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), which designs, manufactures, installs, and maintains submarine cables for communication service providers (CSPs) and cloud providers, it would make some sense because Meta is by far ASN’s largest customer. With ASN in, Meta would boast in-house strategic submarine networks capabilities to securely control its global metaverse traffic.

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