Altair Semiconductor raises $25 mln in venture capital

TEL AVIV, July 1 (Reuters) - Altair Semiconductor, a developer of chips for fourth generation (4G) mobile technology known as LTE, raised $25 million from venture capital funds to strengthen its market position and support product deployments from its largest customers.

The funds were raised from the company’s current investors: Bessemer Venture Partners, BRM Capital, Giza Venture Capital, JVP and Pacific Technology Partners, Altair said on Monday.

Israel-based Altair has raised $100 million to date.

“The reason we are raising this money is because we see a market opportunity we can better capitalise on with this money,” Eran Eshed, vice president of marketing, told Reuters.

“The most significant thing that happened from a market standpoint is the Verizon deployment, which has had a ripple effect on the whole industry.”

Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications VZ.N and Vodafone Group VOD.L, was the most aggressive carrier to commit to launching LTE (long-term evolution) on a nationwide scale for data devices such as tablets and ultrabooks, he said.

“We will see this trend increasing, though phones will take a little longer. You need 99.9 percent coverage for phones,” Eshed said.

Carriers in Japan, South Korea, Russia and India are also replacing 3G with 4G for data devices, Eshed said. According to Altair, the cost of integrating LTE-only in mobile data devices is substantially lower than LTE plus 3G.

“Once they remove 3G from their devices and run everything on 4G for data ... they could shut down some of their 3G networks and refarm the spectrum to 4G,” Eshed said.

Altair has shipped about 1 million LTE chips to date. They have been integrated into more than 100 product models, including tablets, ultrabooks, USB dongles and routers.

Devices with Altair’s chips built by original equipment manufacturers will be offered towards the end of the year in Verizon stores, Eshed said.

“It’s a good niche for us to grow and basically establish ourselves as a viable alternative,” Eshed said. “When mass market of phones happens we’ll be there.”

(Editing by Jeffrey Heller)

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