The Apples, Googles, Facebooks, and Twitters of the world deliver much of the stuff that you read, post, stream, and download. But the Acacias, Benus, and BTIs of the world (who?) are allowing this digital revolution to progress at such a breakneck speed. Thanks to two giants in particular, Akamai Technologies and Starent Networks, Boston has been at the front of the networking and telecommunications world, and the newest entrants in the field are hoping to hold that edge.
The Maynard company is focused on increasing the bandwidth used to deliver digital content without requiring consumers to pay higher prices to their Internet carriers. It provides components that ultimately boost bandwidth by anywhere from 10 times to 100 times what it is now, without raising costs or having to replace existing optical fiber. “We make their pipe much bigger,” said Acacia chief executive Raj Shanmugaraj. Many US consumers are seeing this change already, though it will be several years before it reaches everybody, he said.
BTI in Littleton is all about the cloud. As more people and companies store data using cloud-based services, there’s a growing need to be able to access the cloud swiftly and easily. That’s BTI’s focus, and it’s why Bain Capital Ventures, among many, has poured millions into its future. Customers for BTI’s software and hardware include Rackspace, which provides remote hosting for applications and data. BTI’s technology helps connect a customer’s data centers together, and download whatever they need fast. “We make clouds work,” chief executive Colin Doherty said.
Perhaps you’ve heard that “mobile” is sort of a big thing nowadays, thanks to that vibrating computer in your pocket. Acton-based Affirmed has developed technology to deliver content over new types of mobile networks. For instance, its technology might help create a Wi-Fi hot spot in a car, so a person can quickly access the Web using a phone without being charged for data usage. That could mean video — like watching the Olympics live on your iPad — being available to consumers on the go.
The Billerica company’s initial focus has been enabling “community Wi-Fi” networks. That’s where a customer who opts in can get Wi-Fi anywhere, as long as another customer who has opted in is nearby. Next for Benu is allowing customers to access content they previously could get only in their homes — from a DVR,or from Apple TV or Roku streaming services — anywhere they go, on their laptop or mobile device. So customers would have a virtual version of their entire home technology system anywhere they went.
Kyle Alspach has worked in journalism in Massachusetts since 2005 and was one of the original staff writers at BetaBoston.
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