LONDON – Neul Ltd., a startup company working with Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung to use so-called TV white-space spectrum for machine-to-machine communications, has raised $12.8 million from a venture capital syndicate.
The syndicate is led by European venture capital firm DFJ Esprit and includes IQ Capital and Cambridge Angels. The founders and employees have also invested.
The funding helps to underpin wireless data trials already underway, including the trial announced June 27, 2011 by the Cambridge Consortium of the BBC, BSkyB, BT, Cambridge Consultants, Microsoft, Neul, Nokia, Samsung, Spectrum Bridge and TTP.
Neul (Cambridge, England) was founded in 2010 by some of the founders of Cambridge Silicon Radio, which pioneered the development of single-chip Bluetooth transceivers in CMOS. Neul has developed a wireless architecture and protocol that could use the 400-MHz to 800-MHz UHF band used for television broadcasts for machine-to-machine communications. Neul will shortly launch the "Weightless" standard that covers the proposed communications.
Neul's adaptive white-space wireless technology uses whatever channels are left open by digital television services in a particular geographic region. It is being pitched to service some 50 billion connected M2M devices, including applications from smart metering to local broadband delivery, transportation and personal health devices.
"Having worked with the founders in their last venture, I am excited to be working again with the team that has pioneered game changing wireless technology in Europe," said Simon Cook, CEO of DFJ Esprit.
Neul is already offering basestations and relatively large size (FPGA-based) receivers, although the U.K. trials are being run using "experimental licenses" from the authorities (Ofcom).
If we assume that the market only really takes off when single-chip client-side devices are available we may be one or two years away - the chips have to be designed and manufactured.
Neul has said that although it has the VHDL/Verilog and working FPGAs it does not want to be the chip maker. It wants one or more of the usual suspects to design and sell the chips.
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