TV white space pioneer Neul exits broadband equipment market

Neul, one of the early TV white space (TVWS) boosters, is abandoning its business of supplying broadband equipment and software to seek a brighter future in Network as a Service (Naas) offerings.

The company said it will see an unspecified number of employee layoffs due to its change in direction. Its online job board currently includes listings for a software developer "working in the cloud" and a software engineer who can help the company develop system software and the communication protocols for "communicating with things."

Cambridge, UK-based Neul indicated it is putting together a new funding round to support its new initiatives and said it expects to announce the size of, and participants in, the round during the next two to three months. Previous investors include DFJ Esprit, Q Capital Partners, Mitsui Global Investment as well as The Cambridge Angels.

Neul launched the world's first city-wide network using TV white space spectrum in Cambridge during April 2012. The company also drove creation of the royalty-free, open communications standard Weightless standard for enabling TVWS for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

Neul claims TVWS will remain a core capability for it, but it claims the company's new direction will make it easier for network operators and others to use Weightless for a wide range of Internet of Things (IoT) applications. The company said its revised focus will include delivering ultra-low cost endpoints and base stations supporting Weightless.

"This step is a recognition that Neul's start-up phase of discovering how to use valuable spectrum resource in a general purpose way has borne fruit," said Stan Boland, Neul's CEO.

"We will now narrow our attention to serving the fast-emerging Internet of Things market with that know-how. Low-cost, small form factor and easy to program endpoints with wide area wireless capability will be sampling in just a few months, and these will link seamlessly to our cloud-based service offer," Boland added.

IoT refers to the idea of Web-enabling pretty much anything and everything to create smart homes and businesses. A recent Wall Street Journal article noted that estimates for how many devices will be Web-connected by 2020 vary from around 30 billion, according to an ABI Research report, to 50 billion, according to Cisco.

For more:
- see this Neul release and this Web page
- see this Wall Street Journal article (sub. req.)

Related articles:
Machina Research: How low-power, wide-area wireless networks may transform M2M
Microsoft, Ruckus and others form Dynamic Spectrum Alliance to boost TV white space
Weightless 1.0 standard takes TV white space into M2M realm
Weightless pushes to set 'white space' M2M standard
Neul deploys first city-wide white space network in Cambridge