LONDON -- Broadband wireless equipment specialist Orthogon Systems has secured $7 million in venture capital from previous investors Atlas Venture and The Carlyle Group, bringing total funds raised to $28 million. The funding will be used for further development and marketing of the company's 'Gemini' broadband wireless Ethernet bridge.
But a senior director at the company has lashed out at European regulators for delaying the introduction of the technology here, and suggested they are again hindering the growth of innovative companies in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.
Orthogon, headquartered in Ashburton, Devon (England) has also established a sales and marketing organization in the US, based in Waltham, Mass. It also announced today (Monday 30th June) that it has started shipping its first Gemini products, which offer true non-line-of-sight (NLOS) coverage in the license-exempt 5.8GHz ISM band.
The system provides a secure point-to-point broadband link to connect separate networks for up to six miles where obstacles such as trees and buildings prevent a direct line-of-sight connection.
The Gemini platform is currently in NLOS trial deployments in Canada and the US, and the company says it expects to start shipping product for revenue next month through a network of distributors and resellers. Trials are also planned soon in Australia and Malaysia.
"It is a tragic shame that we have not been able to do any trials here in the UK, nor anywhere in Europe because of regulatory delays and mismanagement. The RA (Radicommunications Agency) was going to release the 5.8GHz C band for broadband access next month, but they have changed their minds again and continue to drag their feet", Grant Grafton, operations director at Orthogon told EETimes. The frequency is available, he added, but at such low RF power levels that it is only suitable for indoor use.
"The RA is not thinking at all about business, but are simply following their own agenda. To be fair, it's an issue at the ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) as much as the RA, but it's no good the government beating its breast about the importance of Broadband Britain, and then putting such obstacles in the way", Grafton added.
Orthogon was formed by executives from Piping Hot Networks, which was forced to cease trading when the UK government kept delaying in 2000 and 2001 the use of the 3.4GHz frequency range for broadband fixed wireless access. Piping Hot had developing the equipment for this, and at one stage employed 105 people, but because of the delays was forced to reduce to 15 and to change tack and develop different technologies.
In its initial release, the Wireless Ethernet Bridge delivers up to 23 Mbit/s and maintains link availability, up to 99.9999%, equivalent to or better than carrier class wireline systems. The platform is FCC certified and the company says the gear delivers payback in less than 12 months to enterprise customers seeking to connect disparate networks, and to wireless ISPs seeking to backhaul data or cellular traffic.
Mobilcom Wireless Inc., a Canadian wireless broadband network provider, plans to deploy the gear for several customers with challenging NLOS environments.
Winncom Technologies, an international value-added distributor of Wireless LAN / WAN, data networking infrastructure and VPN security solutions, also plans to distribute the OS-Gemini link.
"The adoption of point-to-point wireless broadband technology has been limited to clear line-of-sight deployments because reliable non-line-of-sight technology has not been available. By developing a unique technology that can reliably overcome obstacles and terrain, Orthogon is helping to enable a potentially enormous market," said Phil Bolt, President and CEO of Orthogon Systems.
Innovative features of the Gemini platform include multi-beam space-time-coding, intelligent OFDM, dynamic frequency selection and adaptive modulation. The equipment also has a novel air interface that incorporates a proprietary data scrambling technique.
With multi-beam space-time-coding, several data beams are sent via multiple antennas and recombined by multiple receivers at the receiving end to combat the severe signal fading in an NLOS environment.
Intelligent OFDM allows for instant de-modulation, enabling detection of signals in the harshest of weather and terrain conditions.
The Gemini system monitors the complete band and automatically switches to the quietest set of frequencies. This ensures high reliability and availability of the link, and also that there is no interference to other users on the band.
The platform dynamically chooses the most appropriate data modulation scheme, from BPSK to 64QAM based on the received signal quality. This ensures that the radio link is continually optimized over the radio path in spite of varying link conditions, providing the maximum possible throughput at all times.
In conjunction with its new round of funding, Orthogon has appointed Gerald Wesel as Chairman of the Board and Ken Dubuque as Vice President of Worldwide Sales.
Wesel has significant experience moving network technology companies from development to commercialization. Most recently, he was CEO of Crescent Networks and prior to that founder and Vice President of Sales/Business Development at Agile Networks
Sales and channel marketing will be lead by Ken Dubuque, who was previously Director of Channel Sales for Proxim Corporation.