1. What is the innovation?

There is an exponential growth in data traffic in public and enterprise fibre networks leading to data bottlenecks. Modular Photonics provides solutions which speed up those old fibre links with unique plug-and-play devices that future proof the fibre backbone for the next decade. We specialise in manufacturing what are small glass-microchip modules which attach to the ends of an optical fibre link, allowing the out-dated multimode fibre to operate at greatly enhanced data rates without needing to remove and update the fibre. This ‘OMPlex’ retrofit technology allows for fibre networks in data centres, hospitals, multibuilding campuses etc to be upgraded to the latest data speeds cost-effectively, and, with minimal service interruptions and building works.

2. What benefits does the innovation bring?

Modular Photonics delivers speedy data without re-cablingAs the demands for data in society increase, there is a growing need to boost the speed of our optical fibre networks. This often involves replacing the old multimode fibre with the latest single-mode fibre. This can, however, be very costly requiring building works and can also involve major service interruptions. The technology developed by Modular Photonics overcomes this requirement, allowing for the old multimode fibre to be used with the latest single-mode transceivers. The improvement in data rate and reach can be up to 1000-fold, with the plug-and-play functionality of the devices allowing for 1/10th the cost and 1/10th the installation time of removing and upgrading the actual fibre. The technology is the only plug-and-play solution on the market and has for instance been used in Australian sports complexes and schools and is set to be deployed in a variety of other venues in the coming months.

3. What commercial success and/or benefit to society has it achieved?

The technology developed by Modular Photonics provides a low-latency solution to future-proofing our optical fibre data networks. The technology can be used in a variety of market segments, with the company experiencing a rapidly growing number of early adopters. Modular Photonics continue to sell products locally as well as overseas, including to the largest telecommunications companies in the world. The technology has also been used in several record-breaking optical fibre transmission experiments overseas. Modular Photonics is also in the process of developing several new product lines which will boost the growth of the company.

In 2019, Modular Photonics won the prestigious Prism Award for Optics & Optomechanics. There were a total of 170 applicants, 30 finalists and 10 category winners. Finalists included large multinationals and 2 startups, of which Modular Phtoonics was one. The award was collected by CEO Mick Withford at a gala at Photonics West in San Francisco. 

4. What lessons learnt can you share?

  • Grow organically and be prepared to fine-tune objectives based on market feedback.
  • Never stop trying to learn about and understand your target market.
  • It is important to become accustomed to the different language used by different sectors of the market.

How many new jobs has this innovation created?