Keeping the internet “intune”.

I have a confession to make. Last week’s column was ghosted for me because I wasn’t able to attend our Nasdaq vs AIM: Smackdown event. By all accounts, including my own, I missed a great event and one that we all hope will inspire many more of our young entrepreneurs to throw their hats into the ring, so to speak. I’m not apologising, mind you, for I was in Dublin supporting one of our contenders for a possible future IPO in either market: Intune Networks, an exciting company based in Dublin and Belfast.

I’ve written about this company before on the basis that they represented truly disruptive technology, a term often used but rarely experienced. Put simply, and I regret to say that’s as much as I understand these days, their technology offers guaranteed quality of service and efficient use of fibre, despite the anarchy of Internet protocols. If adopted widely, they will allow a continued internet future for all the surfing, downloading, music and video that today’s teenagers accept as given, almost a human right, at least until they get a bit older.

The underlying technology and science behind the Intune Verisima product goes back much further than 1999, when the company was founded as a spin-out of UCD. Basic fibre optics and the laser go back to the sixties when Charles K. Kao made a discovery at STC research laboratories, that led to the first ultrapure fibre optic being made just four years later, in 1970 and for which he earned the 2009 Nobel Prize. Others, including myself in a small way, went on to add to the associated technologies of fibre communication. In particular, very highly tuned lasers were invented which I remember around 1990 were hailed as offering the prospect of each human on earth having a laser line associated with them so they could receive their personal data.

Obviously that didn’t quite happen but another spin-off of military technology of the same era, did. This one was hyped by the suggestion that each of us might have a phone and number which would be recognised and available to us all over the world. So was born the mobile phone.

Meanwhile, fibre optics developed across the world, including here in Northern Ireland. Researchers in STC (Jordanstown) quietly produced the high speed switches, essential for the first generation internet “take-over” of the communication world. This became the business we know today as Nortel and peaked just before the bust at $3Bpa.

Intune Networks is one of the dozen or so exciting companies that erupted mushroom like around Belfast but backed from all over the world, following the Nortel retrenchment: so it is particularly gratifying to see it succeed some ten years later.  The magic dust in this case came from two young researchers at UCD whose genius was to see how all the elements of the technology could some together to solve the key issue for IP users. You can read about it yourself at http://intune-rocks- bono-says-it-will-change-the-world for example. Then think how we can make it our collective mission to ensure that all the good ideas of our young researchers get their day in the sun!


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