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Agilent is extending its fiber-optic capability by purchasing Italy-based Silicon Microsystem, a fiber-optic-technology laboratory, for approximately U.S. $55 million in cash.

The purchase is part of Agilent's ongoing plan to extend its reach into fiber optics. Agilent hopes the investment in Silicon Microsystem will improve Agilent fiber-optic products' speed-to-market.

Silicon Microsystem will fold into another recent Agilent acquisition, Turin Technology Center, and focus on fiber-optic technology used in communications networks.

According to RHK, a market research firm, the fiber optic market will grow to more than $24 billion by 2004. The growth will be a needs-based response to more bandwidth for Internet-based applications.

The transaction is expected to close in about six weeks after certain conditions have been met.

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