Alereon fares well in its first round of financing

A bleeding edge wireless start-up, formed just 8 months ago, has reaped a whopping US$31.5 million in its first round of financing.

Alereon Inc., of Austin, Texas, is a fables semiconductor company, creating chipsets, software, a media access control layer, and antennas for ultra-wideband (UWB) wireless networking. These components are designed to deploy UWB in portable and handheld computing devices, as well as an array of consumer electronics.

UWB spreads a very low-power signal, with high data capacity, across a very large slice of the spectrum. It's been used in some classified military radios, and in ground-penetrating radar and imaging systems. Much of the interest now is in using UWB as a basis for short-range so-called personal-area networks (PAN). The IEEE 802.15.3a Task Group is trying to create a UWB 480M bit/sec data standard with a range of about 3 feet.

"Our vision is that UWB will ultimately become a form of 'wireless USB'", Alereon CEO Eric Brookman says.

The venture fund backing of Alereon is not a return to the Internet investing frenzy, when all you needed was an idea no one had ever heard before. The company's founders, much of its staff, and the core of its intellectual property were spun out from pioneering UWB company, Time Domain, of Huntsville, Ala., specifically to focus on PAN technology, while the parent company continued its military and government work.

The investors, which include Austin Ventures LP, Pharos Capital Partners LP, Centennial Ventures Ltd. and others, are funding not simply the early stage work, but the wherewithal to carry Aleron through to actual production, says Executive Vice President Jeff Ross. Alereon plans to deliver chip samples during the fourth quarter of 2004, with volume production likely in early 2005.

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