Singapore-based Semitech today announced that the company has raised $3.4 million AUS — incidentally nearly the same USD amount due to current exchange rates — with an option for up to $6 million more for a total possible haul of $9 million. The Series A round was led by Melbourne, Australia’s Cleantech Ventures.
The startup plans to use the money to advance its smart grid power line communications gear and keep up with the market’s growth, according to Semitech’s CEO, Matt Rhodes.
Semitech currently markets two power line communications chips, the SM2200 and the SM2101, as “frequency agile” components that address the noisy, inconsistent environment that lines designed to carry electricity present to data transmission equipment. It also produces the SM6401 power line communications system on a chip (SoC) for advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and automated meter reading (AMR) applications.
Broadband over power lines (BPL) as a vehicle for high-speed Internet connectivity didn’t fare as well as some had hoped, but electrical grid operators have a pretty compelling reason to pay it heed. Why? Because BPL effectively grafts a private communications platform over infrastructures that they already own and control. It’s steadily gaining traction in some smart grid circles, particularly in Europe where a pilot in Liverpool and a partnership between CURRENT Group and Britain’s Cable&Wireless Worldwide is renewing interest in the field.
“We see significant demand for our power line communications products, especially given the growth of the smart grid markets,” states Rhodes in a press release. Perhaps, but the company and its partners will have to work hard to deflect the wireless industry’s encroachment, particularly in the U.S. where providers are presenting a surprisingly united front in establishing 3G/4G networks as the defacto carriers of smart grid data.
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