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Sentito Senses Something

Light Reading
News Analysis
Light Reading
1/29/2004

Convergence switch vendor Sentito Networks is about to close its third round of funding as investors buy into the new VOIP gold rush.

The Rockville, Md.-based company won't say how much it expects to collect, but says (or hopes) the closing is imminent. Sentito has raised $25 million to date -- $11 million in February 2001 and $14 million in March 2003 (see Sentito Feels $14M Coming).

Existing investors are Core Capital Partners, Inflection Point Ventures, Kodiak Venture Partners, Mid-Atlantic Venture Funds, Technology Venture Partners LP, and Telus Ventures.

Sentito's NEO switch allows service providers to offer data services and traditional TDM voice over a common infrastructure (see Sentito Debuts Carrier-Class Switch). It sits in a sector that is set for growth as carriers plan VOIP services, according to Infonetics Research Inc. (see VOIP Gear Hits a Speedbump).

The vendor scored well in a recent Light Reading Insider report, The SIP Revolution: Winners and Losers, receiving a four-star rating (out of five) in the service provider equipment category.

The report also noted that while Sentito has a unique product that combines a DSLAM with its media gateway, softswitch, and TDM support, it will likely come up against the likes of Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Fujitsu Ltd. (OTC: FJTSY) in the big money accounts.

Sentito announced its first customers last April and has had further, though minor, success since (see Sentito Scores First Customers, Sentito Jams at Woolstock and Wisconsin ISP Picks Sentito).

Now the company has set its sights on Europe, a region that accounts for 27 percent of next-gen voice equipment revenues, according to the Infonetics team, compared with 37 percent from North America. It has opened a London office, and spokesman Jeff Heynen says it has some customer trials and new partnerships to announce in February and March (see Sentito Opens London Office).

The Sentito man says there has been particular interest in Scandinavia and among wholesale service providers that house their equipment in London carrier hotels. "Our equipment provides them with a centralized function, and allows them to redeploy their Cisco gateways in more remote locations," says Heynen, adding that "a couple of European customers are already running their traffic through our box."

Further evidence of the potential for VOIP-related business in Europe came yesterday, as Sentito's former head of European sales set up his own investment vehicle in London to bring investors and VOIP hopefuls together (see Euro VOIP World Braces for Romans).

— Ray Le Maistre, International Editor, Boardwatch

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