10 start-ups to watch: Go Networks

Go Networks will offer radio base stations for carrier-based wireless LANs (WLAN) and, ultimately, 802.16a-based WiMAX broadband access and backhaul services.

Location: Mountain View

What will the company offer? Radio base stations for carrier-based wireless LANs (WLAN) and, ultimately, 802.16a-based WiMAX broadband access and backhaul services.

How did the company get its start? Entrepreneur Gideon Ben-Efraim, who earlier founded wireless radio equipment makers P-Com and Netro (the latter acquired in 2003 by SR Telecom), concluded that the high price of proprietary radios limited carriers' ability to deploy large-scale wireless services cost-effectively. So he teamed with Oz Leave, who had been joint head of a special intelligence technology unit with the Israeli Defense Forces, in September 2003 to solve the problem.

How did the company get its name? Selected by founders because it "implies the concept of mobility."

How much funding does the company have? $20 million, in one round closed in September 2004. Major investors are Accel Partners, Apax Partners, Israel Seed Partners, Pitango Venture Capital and Siemens Acceleration. A smaller investor is Benhamou Global Ventures, with Eric Benhamou as Go chairman.

Who's leading the company? Gideon Ben-Efraim.

Who might use the product? Carriers, with mobile enterprise workers among ultimate beneficiaries. Company executives declined comment on product trials or target shipment dates.

Why is this company worth watching? Although Go is operating in stealth mode, the company is generating interest among wireless watchers looking for next-generation developments.

Go's intellectual property will be in chipsets, antennas, and software for operating and managing the base stations and for QoS features. Supporting 802.11 WLAN standards and 802.16 in the future, the base stations will cost a fraction of current proprietary wireless broadband products. The devices will support both indoor and outdoor networks but provide longer ranges and greater capacity than current WLAN-based products, according to Go executives. Standard 802.11b, g or a clients will be able to work unchanged with the Go base stations, they say.

Go seems nearly alone among potential competitors in focusing first on 802.11/WLAN base stations that are specifically designed to meet carriers' demanding requirements for QoS, performance and reliability. BelAir Networks, Tropos Networks and several others, for example, already offer outdoor WLAN gear for municipal network providers and wireless ISPs. Many others, such as Aperto Networks, Lucent, Redline Communications and ZiMax Technologies, are building carrier gear based on the 802.16/WiMAX standard.

Go expects to exploit Ben-Efraim's experience with carriers to get a foot in the door and a signature on a purchase order.

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Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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