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Switch Startup Raises $10 MillionSwitch Startup Raises $10 Million

Ilotron calls its development a "petabit router"

March 17, 2000

2 Min Read
Switch Startup Raises $10 Million

ilotron, a new optical networking company, which will launch a truly all-optical core network router for telecommunications networks has received first round funding of $10 million investment from Europe's leading venture capital company, 3i.

ilotron, is a start-up which combines leading edge technology from the Photonic Networks Research Centre of the University of Essex, one of the world's renowned centres of excellence in photonics and optical communications networks, with senior management having come from leading equipment vendors. ilotron specialises in the rapidly growing global market for network optical routing. The company develops all-optical routers that allow telecoms operators to route their telecoms traffic around their networks at a lower cost than ever before and with a superior performance. ilotron's optical router, which will render existing technology obsolete, will help telecoms operators cope with the dramatic increases in telecoms traffic, and especially Internet traffic, which are currently being experienced.

Recent independent market research reports have suggested that the market which ilotron will be addressing is likely to be worth as much as £20Bn in North America and Europe over the next 5 years, with a quarter of this being in Europe. ilotron plans to address both of these markets initially and to expand globally in due course.

Driven mainly by the Internet, there has been significant growth in the volume, and the type of traffic that communication networks support. This has resulted in telecoms operators needing to effectively overhaul their networks with all-optical switching systems in order to cope with demand. Even the very latest telecommunication networks, although passing traffic optically through fibre optic cables, convert the traffic to electrical signals for switching purposes and as a consequence are struggling to cope with demand. The key challenge now, is to replace these electrical switches with all-optical systems, in order to eliminate current capacity constraints, reduce costs and handle all types of traffic protocol and bit rates.

Despite many claims, no one has yet commercialised a truly optical switch, and ilotron is confident of being the first in the world to deliver an optical router scalable to Petabit capacity for core transport networks (a Petabit is 1x1015 bit/s or one million times greater than a Gigabit). ilotron's all-optical routers are designed to be fully scaleable from today's network requirements and completely modular so that whatever the customer requirement the ilotron optical router will meet the need.

Commenting on the deal, Andrew Davison, Investment Executive with 3i's Technology Team said: "We are very pleased to be backing ilotron, which is poised to become a major player in the market for network optical routing. 3i is developing a significant portfolio in the telecoms sector and in the opto-electronics sector in particular, in companies such as Bookham Technologies, Kymata and Photonic Materials. We believe the ilotron opportunity is a significant milestone and re-enforces 3i's increasingly important role in the technology market."


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