Funding for startups

Intellon Gets $18M From Moto, Comcast

The home networking chip maker Intellon Corp. (Nasdaq: ITLN) has landed $18 million in new funding from a group of investors including Motorola Ventures , Comcast Interactive Capital , Intel Capital , and Samsung Corp. (See Intellon Lands $18M.)

Goldman Sachs & Co. led the round, with several other venture capital firms also investing.

All of these, for one reason or another, like the idea of using the electrical wiring in the home as the physical backbone for the home network. In the not-too-distant future, a Samsung TV or a Comcast set-top box, for example, might be instantly connected to the home network the moment its power cord is plugged in.

Intellon helped create the the technology behind the HomePlug Powerline Alliance home networking standard, which competes with other standards like Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) , which uses coaxial cable, and HomePNA, which uses existing telephone wires and coaxial cable. The HomePlug standard is not as widely used as the others, but shows promise. Intellon says it introduced the world's first HomePlug-based chips in June 2001. (See RBOCs Want Inside Your House and AT&T: Hold the MoCA.)

Intellon VP of business development Andy Melder says it's often the subscriber who chooses the HomePlug option. "Today the installer leads with an Ethernet cabling solution, but more and more consumers are refusing to let someone staple-gun CAT-5 wiring around their baseboards," Melder says. "Also, in Europe, interior walls are made of stone or cement, so there's no fishing wires through a wall."

Melder points out that HomePlug has a bandwidth advantage over emerging wireless home networking technologies, too. Melder says wireless home networking was fine when all people wanted was email and Internet browsing from other places in the home. Consumers now want to send large video and music files and streams around the home, and Intellon believes wireless isn't yet up to the task. (See Moto, T-Online Back Ruckus.)

Melder says 10 operators are already using set-top boxes with Intellon HomePlug Turbo chips inside for live IPTV deployments. These include PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008), Orange (NYSE: FTE), Free , Chunghwa Telecom Co. Ltd. (NYSE: CHT), and Club Internet from T-Online International AG . The Turbo chips provide 85 Mbit/s of bandwidth, while Intellon's new AV chips will provide 200 Mbit/s, or enough to support high-definition TV. Melder says a number of other operators are now trialing its HomePlug technology. (See Intellon Links to Chunghwa and LEA Connects IPTV.)

Melder adds that EchoStar Satellite LLC has built Intellon chips into all of its new set-top boxes.

Intellon says it will use the new funds to accelerate the global rollout of its HomePlug AV chips and to develop new products.

The company employs just over 100 people and has offices in Florida, Texas, and California.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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