Viavi sets up optical component fab in Arizona

Network testing company Viavi is ramping up its presence in the optic components sector, opening a brand-new production facility in Chandler, Arizona.

The company officially opened the plant on November 10, investing nearly $100 million to create “hundreds of new jobs” for the city. Viavi said it also expects the production facility to generate $50 million in payroll taxes for state and local governments.

“Establishing a major hub in Chandler, Arizona, will not only expand our involvement in the local optics ecosystem but ramp up our U.S. manufacturing capabilities considerably,” stated Viavi CEO Oleg Khaykin.

The company said it chose to build the plant in Arizona because the state provides a “business-friendly” environment and contains a strong workforce base in the optics industry. Viavi expects to deliver the facility’s first production in the first quarter of 2023, according to Amit Malhotra, global lead of communications at Viavi Solutions.

Specifically, the site will focus on producing optical coatings, which, as Malhotra explained to Fierce, are layers of materials that can be found inside different optical components, such as a lens or a prism. They play a key role in transmitting light within optical components.

Optical transport equipment is a particularly growing market in North America, as overall revenue in the region totaled $950 million in Q1, per a Dell’Oro report from June.

Malhotra added while Viavi is better known as a network test company, it’s been involved in the optical security and performance space for decades. Viavi was formerly part of JDS Uniphase, which acquired Optical Coating Laboratory Inc (OCLI) back in 1999.

The company over the years acquired several other technology companies to boost its network and equipment portfolio, including Westover Scientific for fiber inspection and cleaning, enterprise network developer Network Instruments and optical components company RPC Photonics.

In 2015, JDS Uniphase split into Viavi and Lumentum Holdings. Lumentum snagged two optical equipment acquisitions earlier this year, IPG Photonics and Neophotonics.

“We have developed a significant business in banknote anti-counterfeiting, components for smartphone facial recognition, and consumer, automotive, government and aerospace applications,” Malhotra said.

Viavi’s optical security and performance products made up $343 million out of $1.3 billion total revenue in FY 2022. Though its network test business still made up the bulk of full 2022 revenue at $845.8 million.

Viavi in 2017 won a Fierce Innovation award for three of its network testing solutions, one of which was its Optical Spectrum Analyzer.