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NeST plans photonics research facility in Kochi

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Vice-Admiral S.C.S. Bangara, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Naval Command, inaugurating Photonics 2004 in Kochi on Thursday. - Vipin Chandran

Kochi , Dec. 9

THE NeST Group, a Kochi-based electronics and computing company, plans to set up a research and development centre for photonics here, its Chairman, Dr Javad Hassan, has said.

The proposed centre would act a bridge between academy and industry in the area of photonics, the technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms radiant energy.

The NeST Group has a division called NeST Photonics, which designs and manufactures solutions for fibre optic communications, voice, data and video. Dr Hassan said the R&D centre would be set up in association with the Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT).

Speaking at the `Photonics 2004', a conference on the subject, Dr Hassan said the photonics industry in India could not take off and is still in its infancy as the country could attract investments in the area due to tight regulatory controls and tariff barriers.

But the fibre optic component industry in China has shown improved performance. "In China, substantial investments have been made in R&D by Government agencies and entrepreneurial capital. Further, liberalised industrial policy has attracted many large telecom equipment builders to China from Japan, Europe and the US," he said.

So far, most of the R&D efforts in India in photonics had been in the Government sector and private capital not gone into the area in a big way, except for a few efforts by companies such as Reliance and NeST.

Dr Hassan said the winners and losers in the photonics industry would depend on the ability to remain focused, standardisation of components to achieve volume and commitment of investment for development.

"This has to be achieved jointly by Government and industry. India is substantially lacking in Government funding and academic-industry collaboration," he said.

Worldwide, the photonics industry is now showing signs of recovery because of the advancements in digital broadband technologies, after it suffered heavily with the dotcom burst in 2000.

"This recovery is going to be fundamental, long term, steady and sustainable. This recovery is largely driven by strong growth in broadband access networks, new high speed networking protocols and new applications that take full advantage of this new bandwidth," he said.

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