Ciena is starting Indian R&D unit



Ciena Corp. will open its first research and development center in India, creating as many as 300 jobs over three years and enabling the struggling telecommunications equipment firm to benefit from the country's low wages and rapidly accelerating technological know-how.

Nicole Anderson, a spokeswoman for the Linthicum firm, said yesterday that the move will "allow Ciena to capitalize on the expertise that has emerged in that region," which remains one of the world's fastest-growing markets for telecommunications equipment.

Ciena said it is converting a 95,000-square-foot facility in Gurgaon, which is near New Delhi. The firm wants to do the hiring - mostly engineers, with some support personnel- over the course of the next three years.

The Indian facility's two top executives, including Neeraj Gulati, the center's vice president and general manager, had been working in Linthicum, the company said.

The added jobs would boost Ciena's worker ranks substantially. The company currently employs 1,500 people, including roughly 600 in Maryland, Anderson said.

Ciena will not shift jobs from its four existing research and development centers - in Linthicum, Georgia, Massachusetts and Canada, Anderson said.

The move comes as Ciena continues to struggle in the aftermath of the telecom sector's collapse. Last month the company reported a significantly narrowed net loss for its fiscal third quarter - its 16th straight quarter in the red - and chief executive Gary B. Smith vowed Ciena would break even in its next fiscal year, which begins Nov. 1.

Major cost savings clearly was a key consideration in opening the Indian center, said economist Anirban Basu, head of the Sage Policy Group, a Baltimore economic consulting firm. Technology workers in India earn substantially less than their U.S. counterparts, but are just as skilled and are highly results-oriented, Basu said.

"Young people there are excited to get these jobs," and have been stepping up enrollments in such disciplines as mathematics, engineering and computer science in hopes of landing a job with a U.S.-based high-tech firm, he said.

Having such skilled workers at lower wages in a nation where demand for telecommunications gear figures to remain quite high is likely to be something that will benefit Ciena, Basu said.

Shares of Ciena closed unchanged yesterday at $2.44.

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