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Start-up firm to offer ‘Fixed Mobile Convergence’

On Monday, one of the most discreet of start-ups Stoke Inc., with VC funding from two of the most important VC firms in Silicon Valley, outlined its goal to converge mobile telephones and fixed-line networks.

The company is in the process of developing a system which will clear one of the major bottlenecks faced by the telecom industry today, that of providing a “fixed mobile convergence” in office, homes and around cities, thus providing a single point of contact for the user. Stoke Inc. who has long been working behind the scenes since its founding, has now joined the race to offer this service with approximately 12 other start-ups that include; U.K.-based Apertio and Norwood Systems, Ireland’s Cicero, Israel’s Commil, Canada’s NewStep, and U.S. start-ups Azaire, Kineto, BridgePort NetMotion, Persona Software, Quorum Systems and Tatara Systems.

In an interview, Stoke Inc. President and CEO Randall James Kruep said “There are a lot of dots that need to be connected”.

With funding from VC firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital, Stoke Inc, is headed by some of the leading veterans from companies such as Bay Networks, StrataCom, Cisco and Juniper.

The software being developed by Stoke’s helps manage incoming calls and determines the most efficient way to route the call onto local networks; i.e. a mobile phone call could be connected via a Wi-Fi connection, a cable broadband link or a citywide wireless WiMax network. It is creating a secure pipe over any number of different communications technologies for handling voice or data calls.

“There is a lot of debate right now about who will have the right approach,” said Craig Mathias, an analyst with Farpoint Group of Ashland, Massachusetts. “Stoke has a very comprehensive architecture,” he said of the alphabet soup of emerging technologies Stoke supports, including SIP and IMS.

But all this is not enough according to analysts to succeed in a market which has no common standards. There are many chances that the “fixed wireless convergence may suffer from the same ills that has hampered the growth of location based mobile service because of disparity in each carriers system network.

“That whole area is really problematic until we get standards,” said Ken Dulaney, Gartner Inc.’s senior wireless industry analyst. “There are lots of political problems here.”

Stoke Inc. had received initial financing of $10 million and is set to receive a second round of funding to the tune of $20 million from Kleiner, Sequoia and new investors Pilot House Ventures LLC, Integral Capital Partners and Presidio Venture Partners.

According to the CEO and President of Stoke Inc., trials with two major equipment operators are underway, one in the United States and one overseas, without naming them. The company expects to sign its first commercial contracts early next year.

According to some analysts Stoke’s initial targeted market are South Korea and Japan, the world’s most advanced telecommunications nations.

About Ritwik Sinha

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