Free space optics pioneer has shut down after spending $71 million on technology that never really took off

Dan Jones, Mobile Editor

May 18, 2006

1 Min Read
Lights Out at LightPointe

Free space optics pioneer LightPointe Communications Inc. closed its doors on Tuesday, Unstrung has learned.

There's no official word on the closure from the company yet. But no one was manning the phones when Unstrung called on Wednesday afternoon.

LightPointe hasn't turned up at "The Wireless Event", a trade show in London being staged yesterday and today, even though it's listed as an exhibitor. "We had a phone call from Lightpointe saying it had been shut down," says a spokeswoman for Rock Media, the exhibition organiser.

People in the industry have heard about the company shutting up shop. Analyst Craig Mathias confirmed the gloomy Tuesday tipoff on Wednesday evening. Mathias says that he doesn't yet know the reason but expects that it is down to "too many bills and not enough revenue."

Free space optics (FSO) was one of the technologies that drove interest in wireless broadband back in the telecom boom of the late Nineties and early 21st century. (See Wireless Wonders). The long-range technology, however, didn't see the take-up that many were expecting -- partly because of problems with the wireless connection in bad weather. It didn't work well in fog or rain.

LightPointe had been been trying to deal with these problems by combining the FSO signal with a WLAN-like radio that could operate better in the fog. (See Interop Unwired.) Evidently it was too little, too late. FSO was already being overshadowed by newer wireless technologies such as WiMax and meshed WiFi.

The company was originally founded in 1998 in Boulder, Colorado. The company received $71 million in venture capital and debt financing.

There's still plenty of other players in the FSO market -- see Page 9 of "Who Makes What: Access Equipment".

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

About the Author(s)

Dan Jones

Mobile Editor

Dan is to hats what Will.I.Am is to ridiculous eyewear. Fedora, trilby, tam-o-shanter -- all have graced the Jones pate during his career as the go-to purveyor of mobile essentials.

But hey, Dan is so much more than 4G maps and state-of-the-art headgear. Before joining the Light Reading team in 2002 he was an award-winning cult hit on Broadway (with four 'Toni' awards, two 'Emma' gongs and a 'Brian' to his name) with his one-man show, "Dan Sings the Show Tunes."

His perfectly crafted blogs, falling under the "Jonestown" banner, have been compared to the works of Chekhov. But only by Dan.

He lives in Brooklyn with cats.

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