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Airties merges WiFi and IPTV, accelerates rush to home gateways

There is always more than one way to solve a problem

By PETER WHITE

Published: 25 November, 2010

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There is always more than one way to solve a problem. This can be demonstrated in no better way than the logic that the Airties Wireless Networks management went through when they decided to boot strap a technology business in Turkey.

They could have raised money in the US, but they would need a lot of it, and then they would need to fight it out in a tough market against established names where all telcos had already made their vendor choices. Or they might go to Turkey, where each of them had been born, and start up in a market where technology businesses were alien, and no investment money was available. Both places, Istanbul and California, offered them a good labor market, sea and sunshine.

Naturally they chose the latter and now five years later have emerged as a front runner not only in advanced WiFi systems, but have now entered the IPTV set top market on the back of a deal with Turk Telecom ISP subsidiary TTNet announced this week.

The problem of how to raise the money was solved by bootstrapping the business themselves with cash earned from their silicon valley days, plus a little help from a few local angel investors.

With stints designing chips at National Semiconductor, Analog Devices and writing software at Cisco, the founders were both equipped with some cash, but also with some considerable technical expertise. This all happened back in in 2004, and at Faultline we came across the company a year later in 2005, and have always known that the company knew a thing or two about the WiFi business.

But one of the benefits for Bülent Çelebi and co-founders , is that he has managed to turn back time in his now native Turkey and build a solid relationship with the local tier 1 incumbent which has 6 million DSL lines and which is talking aggressively about upgrading its IPTV capability, by installing ADSL2+ lines and putting DSLAMS at the curb. Already TTNet reckons it can take on DigitTurk and D-Smart, the two dominant DTH vendors, at the 3 million homes which can already get 10 Mbps or better DSL at 81 cities in Turkey.

For those who have never been to Istanbul, the largest City in Turkey, it sits astride the Bosphorus, a sea strait which links the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, connected in turn by the Dardanelles to the Aegean Sea, part of the Mediterranean. It is one of the busiest waterways you could wish to see, reminiscent of Hong Kong in terms of sea traffic, over which 2 million inhabitants a day cross to what is the “other side of town” from the living side of the City to the working side. Interestingly this means a step from Asia to Europe, and there are even a couple of immensely impressive bridges that will let you drive the same journey.

Perhaps it is this East meets west mentality which helps Airties stay at the leading edge of technology, or perhaps it’s the seething 12.5 million city inhabitants (17 million in the wider metropolitan area), each with their business and personal broadband needs, which made Istanbul the right place to start the business. To visit it feels like a 1970s version of Paris, but moved to a hotter climate and with more people and more traffic.

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