Retooling wireless giant Motorola ( MOT) is hoping a gamble on optical gear will light up sales in its broadband division.

The Schaumburg, Ill., tech shop agreed to pay an undisclosed amount of cash for closely held Quantum Bridge, a 70-employee fiber optic systems maker based in Andover, Mass. The move would enable Motorola to offer Quantum Bridge's so-called fiber-to-the-premises equipment to phone and cable companies.

On Tuesday, Motorola slipped a quarter, to $17.33. The stock has more than doubled off its year-ago low as investors have started betting on an uptick in telecom industry capital spending.

Investors got a charge late last year when big Bells such as Verizon ( VZ) and SBC ( SBC) said they intend to use fiber-optic lines instead of copper cable as a future access path to homes and businesses. The fiber connections could one day enable phone companies to sell TV, Internet and calling services -- the fabled triple play of telecom.

The hoopla surrounding the dramatic shift in technology caused stocks such as fiber maker Corning ( GLW) and optical-equipment maker AFC ( AFCI) to surge last year. But as analysts point out, the Bells' spending on fiber expansion will be modest in the near term and confined largely to wiring key buildings and new subdivisions.

The move comes as Motorola seeks to revamp its offerings with new chief Ed Zander at the helm. The company was once the standard bearer in wireless technology, but it has done little but sputter in recent years. The continual fumbling of its cell-phone leadership and the lack of customers for its wireless infrastructure upgrade technology helped run former CEO Chris Galvin out the door last year and helped set the stage for increased focus on broadband.

In recent months, Verizon has named several suppliers for fiber and optical gear, clearing the way for an actual purchase contract at some future date. AFC was chosen as Verizon's main vendor for the equipment.

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