Running Rampant, On-Ramp Wireless Raises $11.5M in Equity Round

6/28/11Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego’s On-Ramp Wireless, which has been on quite a romp over the past year or so, recently raised $11.5 million of a planned $14.7 million round from investors, according to a regulatory filing yesterday. The investors were not disclosed in the filing.

On-Ramp, which was founded in 2008 to develop low-power wireless networking technology for smart grid and other utility-scale applications, previously raised at least $16.5 million.

Last week, the company also landed an undisclosed dollop from a $63 million pool that GE and four VC firms awarded to 10 cleantech companies as part of the “GE ecoimagination Challenge.” The U.S. Department of Energy awarded On-Ramp a $2.1 million grant in November as part of an initiative to help modernize the nation’s electric grid infrastructure.

On-Ramp also has been drawing increased attention. MIT’s Technology Review (popular among techies) profiled the company this week, and in December, CEO Joaquin Silva gave a presentation at Xconomy’s very own “5×5: Five Cities, Five Big Tech Ideas” in Boston.

And then there was the recognition that On-Ramp got last September from no less than the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, which named On-Ramp to its 2011 global list of “technology pioneers.”

On-Ramp’s wireless network technology uses the same frequency as Wi-Fi, but the system operates with much less power, using advanced algorithms to filter extraneous radio interference and keep the network locked onto its own signals. It sounds a bit like modern Astronomy.  On-Ramp says its “Ultra-Link Processing” technology transmits data at a trickle, just 50 bits a second compared to 5 million bits for a Wi-Fi Internet connection. But the system can collect sensor data from an underground utility vault, and is capable of transmitting its signals 45 miles. The company told Tech Review a trial network in San Diego County requires just 35 strategically located access points across a 4,000-square-mile area to collect data from smart meters and other sensors.

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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