PCN Technology Translates Industrial “Tower of Babel” Networks Into Language of the Internet

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it possible to use more than one communications protocol on a line, enabling the wire to be used for both its original purpose, such as monitoring pressure and temperature readings and controlling equipment, and as an intranet running standard Internet communications protocols.

The company says its technology works on just about any type of wire. PCN has even demonstrated that it can convert barbed wire into an Internet-ready communications network.

One of the most interesting applications that Drolet described is converting the wire used in closed circuit TV systems—enabling users to access security surveillance video on the Internet. “Most of our applications are not heavy media applications,” Drolet says. But PCN’s technology can provide what he calls “DVD-quality video” at Internet speeds that range from roughly 8 to 40 megabytes per second—depending on signal noise on the line and the distances involved.

Drolet and Stumpf founded the company in 2004, and it operated mostly as a virtual company with employees in the Midwest, Southeast, and Santa Clara, CA. The company filed for its first patent in 2005 (which was issued in 2007), and hired Venkat Shastri as CEO in 2006, recruiting him from Palomar Technologies, a Carlsbad, CA-based specialist in precision microelectronic automation packaging and assembly systems.

PCN closed on $8 million in a Series A round of funding led by EnerTech Capital of Conshohoken, PA, in 2008, and consolidated its operations in San Diego that same year. Other investors include Joe Kasputys, who was the founding chairman and CEO of Global Insight and a former chairman and CEO of Primark, and Jerre Stead, the former chairman and CEO of Ingram Micro and a former CEO of Square D. Stead is a member of PCN’s board of directors while Kasputys sits on the company’s advisory board, which includes Bill Roper, the former Verisign CEO and longtime SAIC CFO, and Jim Bixby, the former chairman and CEO of San Diego’s SeQual Technologies and Brooktree.

The company now has about 13 employees and seven contract workers, and is preparing to raise its Series B round, which Drolet expects will close sometime during the first quarter of next year. The company also is already generating sales (which Drolet declined to quantify) from its first product.

“We have interest coming in from all over the place,” Drolet says. “We’re pushing some customers away because we can’t serve everybody, so we’re also managing that part” of the company’s growth. To Drolet, PCN is on its way to doing for existing conductive wire what Qualcomm did in the wireless space.

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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