4G LTE chipset co Altair Semiconductor raises $25m

With this latest investment, Altair becomes one of the few Israeli start ups to have raised more than $100 million.

Altair Semiconductor, which develops communications chips today announced that it has closed a financing round of $25 million. The funds were raised from Bessamer, BRM Capital, Giza Venture Capital, Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), and Pacific Technology. With this latest investment, Altair becomes one of the few Israeli start ups to have raised more than $100 million. Since its founding in 2005, the company has raised $101 million.

Altair said it will use the capital to further expand its position in the LTE chipset market. Altair’s products are found inside of USB dongles, tablets, Ultrabooks, Internet hotspots and routers.

Altair is the only start up to have survived from a large cluster of companies that developed modems for 4G communications on LTE cellular frequencies. The company was founded in 2005 by former Libit Signal Processing executives CEO Oded Melamed, chief scientist Yigal Bitran, and VP marketing and business development Eran Eshed. Libit was acquired by Texas Instruments (NYSE: TXN) in 1999 for $365 million in cash and they later worked at various positions in Texas Instruments.

Altair's chips offer two advantages for next generation computers and communications - savings in electricity consumption and the relatively small size of the chips.

This significant round of financing demonstrates the faith that investors have in Altair and optimism about the future after the changes that the market is going through. Altair was founded on the ability of the company to provide optimal and competitive solutions in terms of price and performance. When Altair was first founded it had seemed as though fast wireless technology would be based on WiMAX and that LTE's breakthrough would come much later. But ultimately technology skipped over WiMAX and LTE is already the practical standard.

Meanwhile, communications providers have been laying LTE networks although there are still almost none in use. Altair has been forced to wait 2 years preparing for the introduction of the technology, while the competitive picture has changed with almost all the small companies in the field acquired or closed. The slow introduction of LTE coverage by service providers requires telephony chip technology to include the 2G and 3G frequencies that most of the world is connect to, and on this point a small company like Altair has an advantage over the sector's giants like Qualcomm, Intel, Broadcom and Marvell, and Altair claims matters are beginning to change.

Eshed said, "The market has taken more time than we expected. But today there is already a lot of coverage and a lot of demand, and we no longer need to explain why it is needed and why it is worthwhile for chips that only provide LTE, and the motivation behind these products is understood."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 1, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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