Wireless gear maker Redline lines up new funding

Redline Communications Inc., a maker of broadband fixed wireless equipment that exploits the unlicensed 5.8-GHz band, this week announced an additional US$10 million in funding. That’s on top of $14 million previously secured from media company Telemedia and other investors.

Redline — not to be confused with Web acceleration start-up Redline Networks Inc. of Campbell, Calif. — sells point-to-point, and more recently, point-to-multipoint products to carriers and enterprises. The point-to-point version of the company’s flagship Access Node-50 bridge is used mainly by companies to connect nearby buildings, though Redline says its products can support ranges beyond 50 miles using non-line-of-sight capabilities based on orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM).

The Access Node-50 has been generally available since last summer. Redline says it expects the multipoint version, announced in March, to appeal to carriers for backhaul and other applications.

The privately held company competes with vendors such as Proxim Inc. and Wi-LAN Inc., and has partnerships with companies such as Alvarion Ltd. and distributors Alliance and Talley. Broadband fixed wireless technology competes with technologies such as cable modems and DSL.

Emmy Johnson, principal analyst for Sky Light Research, a Scottsdale, Ariz., research firm that tracks wireless last-mile technologies, says Redline is differentiated by its high throughput. The company claims its boxes run at up to 72M bit/sec over the air.

She says the company, which was founded in 1999, is selling its products at a time when wireless gear based on unlicensed bands is gaining wider acceptance. The worldwide market for point-to-multipoint products (including bridges) operating under 10 GHz will explode from $180 million now to roughly $2 billion over five years, Johnson says.

Redline, which employs 125 people, intends to use its new financing to further develop the product line. The company is trying to come up with ways to build less expensive products, which cost roughly $10,000 per pair. Also on the company’s radar screen is compliance with the new IEEE 802.16 wireless MAN standard, which supports OFDM.