World Economic Forum Helps Burnish San Diego’s On-Ramp Wireless, a Specialist in Low-Power, Low Data Rate Technology

9/14/10Follow @bvbigelow

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cutting edge start-ups from around the globe whose innovations will have a critical impact on the future of business and society.” The forum identified On-Ramp as a cleantech pioneer that “is expected to play a significant role in making the ‘Internet of things’ a reality, helping new technologies like smart grids bridge the gap between the growing demand for energy and a need to significantly reduce CO2 emissions.”

Joaquin Silva

Joaquin Silva

While On-Ramp is Silva’s third startup, he says he saw the opportunity for such technology after working for seven years as an investment banker focused on wireless semiconductors and systems at Santa Monica, CA-based Montgomery & Co. In a sector then known as industrial sensors and telemetry, Silva says he saw a lot of shortcomings. “I saw that there were a lot of challenges in scaling the networks. Everybody was going for broadband, from 2G, 3G to LTE. So basically I said why don’t we get the smartest guys we know and go after the low data rate, the extreme opposite problem.

Silva says the smartest people he knew included On-Ramp co-founder Ted Myers, who started San Diego-based CommASIC in 2001 (acquired by Austin, TX-based Freescale Semiconductor in 2005), and Robert Boesel, a former Qualcomm director of engineering and CommASIC veteran who now serves as On-Ramp’s vice president of engineering. “We started the company about 2-1/2 years ago with the idea of being able to do wide-area, low-power machine-to-machine networking,” Silva says. “This was before the smart grid, smart water, smart energy stuff had become a household phrase.” The startup currently has 53 employees.

Silva says a key insight that led to the formation of On-Ramp was in realizing that ZigBee, a short-range wireless mesh networking standard, would provide only a small sliver of the capabilities needed for very large, low-power wireless networks.

“Basically [ZigBee] works well for a different … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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