WiMax firm gets a slug of VC cash

An equipment maker pushing the WiMax standard, which is tipped to bring broadband to all, has just won $20m worth of venture capital backing

A US manufacturer of WiMax equipment has won $20m (£10.8m) of investment, as venture capitalists show renewed interest in the high-tech sector.

Aperto Networks, which makes a range of equipment based on the 802.16 wireless standard, announced the funding on Monday. The money takes Aperto's total financial backing to $77m, and the company intends to invest these latest funds in product development and in its retail arm.

"Aperto will use funds to expand its sales initiatives, further develop its technology portfolio to complete certification of 802.16/WiMax-compliant products, and increase support for Aperto's global customers, which already number over 120 service providers in over 40 countries," said the company in a financial statement.

Aperto's PacketWave system uses WiMax -- which the company helped to develop -- to provide a high-speed wireless Internet connection to individual homes and businesses.

Many telecoms experts believe that WiMax will have a crucial part to play in providing universal broadband coverage in countries such as the UK. BT recently began a trial of WiMax in four rural areas, and many telcos are thought to be interested in the technology.

Aperto's funding round was led by JK&B Capital, a US-based venture capital firm that believes WiMax has significant commercial potential. Company partner Al DaValle explained that his firm were impressed by Aperto's ability to provide "carrier-class solutions for business-grade multi-service delivery".

Venture capital has been in short supply in recent years, especially for high-tech companies. But conditions appear to be improving. Last week, the UK Technology Partnering and Investment Forum 2004 heard that the investment market is "red hot" at present.