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Exclusive: It's Lights Out for AOptix

Dan Jones
2/5/2016
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Long-time Free-Space Optics (FSO) player AOptix has shut up shop and is selling off its assets at auction next week, Light Reading has learned.

Two industry sources told us that the company is ceasing operations this month. Light Reading has been told that the company is currently trying to shop around its intellectual property. Whatever happens with an IP sale, the company is definitely auctioning off the contents of its Campbell, Calif., headquarters next Wednesday. One source tells us that all employees "are gone" already.

Light Reading tried to reach the company Friday afternoon, but all calls were directed to voicemail. The company is also no longer being represented by its former public relations firm, Lewis PR, which was last listed as a contact in November 2015.

AOptix first started as a well-funded FSO startup in 2000. After the telecom bubble deflated, it built 80Gbit/s air-to-air and air-to-ground links for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the US Air Force. (See AOptix Gets $18M and AOptix Raises $12.9M.)

In 2011, the company took that military know-how and developed a combined millimeter wave (mmWave) radio and optical product for wireless backhaul. In 2012, it closed $42 million in Series E funding. (See AOptix Rejoins the Backhaul Bandwagon.)

In January 2015, AOptix appointed former Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) CEO Michael Klayko as its new chief executive "through its next stage of rapid growth" as the company received a further round of extra investment. (See Brocade Names New CEO.)

In total, the company is said to received up to $150 million from investors. Once source says that AOptix recieved a $45 million round in the summer of 2015.

The company had appeared to be advancing its wireless broadband push, winning a "Cool Vendor" award from Gartner Inc. , and a "Fierce 15" startup accolade in 2015. AOptix's last announced deal was a trial to unwire Hong Kong with local company, Top Express, unveiled in September 2015. (See Magic Quadrant or Gartner 'Graft'? and Meet the Queen of Laser Radio Tech.)

A source tells Light Reading that AOptix's hybrid radio-FSO units were expensive, selling for up to $80,000 a link. Carriers in the US and beyond are looking at wireless backhaul as alternative to fiber, but the expectation is that it should be cheaper and easier to install as well.

We'll update this story if we get any more details on the fate of AOptix.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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R Clark
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R Clark,
User Rank: Blogger
2/5/2016 | 10:02:46 PM
Makes sense
This should explain why the AO Optix gear is being used in a trial in Hong Kong islands for what is supposed to be a low-cost deployment. 
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