ABQ startup may revolutionize Internet delivery

Albuquerque startup OptiPulse Inc. is blazing a new path to superfast wireless internet at 100 times the speed of today’s networks and potentially half the cost.

The company, which launched in 2015, has developed novel optics technology that uses proprietary, high-power laser chips to beam wireless data across a new type of network in urban and rural areas at 10 gigabytes per second. That would allow for direct download delivery to homes and businesses at 1 GBPS, or about 100-fold faster than most current speeds.

The optical network uses arrays of compact laser-emitting stations, or transceivers, strategically arranged for node-to-node transmissions that directly route signals through the most-efficient path to end users. It would eliminate interference from buildings and other infrastructure and avoid the high cost of installing and powering towers.

The company will present its technology today as a keynote speaker at Albuquerque Economic Development’s quarterly luncheon.

“This technology has the potential to be so far reaching,” said Annemarie Henton, AED’s vice president for business development and marketing. “Companies like OptiPulse are helping put New Mexico on the map as a bustling center for technology startups.”

Individual investors have already pumped nearly $1 million into the startup, which is now raising a $3 million seed round, said CEO Mathis Shinnick.

“We’re half way toward that goal,” Shinnick said. “We’re getting a lot of help to take our technology to market.”

That includes an investment from Central New Mexico Community College, which leased a 3,500-square-foot space to OptiPulse in October at an off-campus building at Coal and I-25.

The University of New Mexico also committed $100,000 last year to OptiPulse, which has an option to license UNM communications technology that OptiPulse may use in the future.

After viewing recent demonstrations of the technology, one local telecommunications firm also invested in the company, and another is awaiting final board approval.

The company’s core enabling technology was developed by OptiPulse’s founder, president and chief operating officer, John Joseph, a longtime optics engineering whiz and former Sandia National Laboratories scientist.

Joseph created proprietary laser chips that can beam data at 10 GBPS. The company has successfully tested and demonstrated that in a 25-meter beam-line room at the OptiPulse office. The company makes its chips at Sandia’s Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies. It then integrates the chips onto wafers for mounting into network transceivers at its office, which includes a clean room.

“We’ve repeatedly demonstrated the device’s capacity at 10 GBPS with zero errors,” Joseph said. “We’re developing even faster units now.”

OptiPulse’s first network prototypes won’t be commercially available until 2019, but when they are deployed, it could have a huge impact on broadband development, said Lisa Kuuttila, head of the Science and Technology Corp., UNM’s tech-transfer office.

“Fiber optics are very expensive and not very practical for lots of rural and underserved communities,” Kuuttila said. “This is technology that can literally connect the last mile. It has sweeping applicability.”

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