Start-up of the Week / Central Command for Your Home Electronics

Amitai Ziv
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Amitai Ziv

At the moment, the TV remains king of home entertainment, holding court in almost every room. But other screens, like the valiant computer, have been steadily encroaching on his kingdom for years. Now tablets and smartphones have launched their own assault. That’s a lot of devices to coordinate. Celeno, an Israeli computer chip company, is developing a WiFi chip that will centralize all that processing.

“We started out in 2005 with the vision that service providers would want to provide all home communication over one WiFi network,” says Gilad Rozen, Celeno’s founder and CEO.

The world of routers, which deliver data to your device, come in two kinds: the basic ones, made by Edimax or D-link, sold in computer and electronics stores, and the ones that telecommunications companies, like Bezeq and Hot, install in your home for improved WiFi reception and support. Celeno manufactures the high-end WiFi chips that allow those companies to provide even better service.

“This saves the communications companies calls to their support department and helps with customer retention,” says Rozen.

Celeno’s chip provides strong and stable WiFi coverage throughout the home, even large ones. Telecommunications companies can therefore offer improved services and new visions, such as Horizon, from European cable company UPC that uses a single console, sort of like a central command center, for all of your electronics.

The box doubles as a television converter, DVR receiver, telephone switchboard and, of course, a WiFi router all in one, servicing all your digital needs without the tangles of wires. This magic box runs about $200.  

Celeno sells its chip to about 20 giant router manufacturers worldwide such as Cisco, Motorola, Pace and Samsung. About 75 communications providers, such as UPC and Bouygues Telecom in France, use the chip to provide their services.

Radiation concerns that often pop up in conversations about cellular products aren’t something to worry about here, according to Rozen.

“We make sure to keep the output as low as possible, particularly to avoid interfering with routers in adjacent homes,” he says, noting that the focused beams of their chips keep radiation at a minimum. “Also, WiFi creates a lot less radiation than the cellular networks that we’re exposed to.”

Celeno’s chip costs between $4 and $8, and the company’s revenue is estimated at about $25 million. Recently, Celeno signed big contracts with giants such as ZTE of China and Arris of the United States, so its income is expected to go up in the next year.

It costs a lot of money to develop a chip. So far about $68 million has been invested in Celeno from investors that include Greylock Partners and Pitango who were joined later by Cisco as a strategic investor, Liberty Global (which owns the UPC cable company) and Vintage Investment Partners. Celeno has 70 employees, 50 of them in Ra’anana and the rest in the United States, Taiwan, France and Ukraine.

Celeno, an Israeli computer chip company, is developing a WiFi chip that will centralize processing.Credit: Bloomberg

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