Verizon Ventures today announced it led a €4 million ($4.5 million) Series A financing round in PICadvanced (PICa), a developer of cost-effective optics and photonics solutions for telecom applications. Joining Verizon Ventures in the round is a 200M Co-investment Fund managed by PME Investimentos, which makes co-investments in high-growth Portuguese startups.
Founded in 2014 and based in Ílhavo, Portugal, PICa has been active in the development of optoelectronic transceivers for a new telecommunications network standard called NG-PON2 (Next-Generation Passive Optical Network 2). Leveraging its expertise, the company aims to provide innovative solutions for the Passive Optical Network (PON) market. It has solved many complex problems through optics, from design and development to packaging and testing that are used in the electrotechnology, telecommunications, and biomedicine industries.
“PICa works to identify new optics solutions for many industries — like telecommunications,” said Antonio Teixeira, co-founder of PICa. “We’re excited to work with the team at Verizon Ventures to solve for next-generation optical access – and learn from the experts on Verizon’s network team.”
NG-PON2’s advantage is said to increase the capacity of the network and deliver more bandwidth at a lower cost per bit. PICa is also pioneering the design of Photonic Integrated Circuits (PICs), which will significantly reduce the cost of producing optical modules and break most of the bottleneck created by conventional optic devices.
In 2018, Verizon announced it began testing NG-PON2 technology, the newest standard for Passive Optical Networks (fiber networks that don’t require active amplification due to signal loss). By working with PICa, Verizon will be able to deliver more bandwidth at a lower cost per bit, which could be used to support business services and wireless backhaul on the same fiber as residential services. The advantage PICa technology brings to NG-PON2 networks includes fast tunable lasers that enable up to four 10 Gbps bidirectional wavelength channels. Continued innovation of these technologies could lower the unit cost and enable the development of enhanced new products for 5G small cell deployments.
“Verizon sees a tremendous amount of potential in the way NG-PON2 can improve its optical access network and deliver greater bandwidth to the end-user,” said Glenn Wellbrock, director of optical transport network architecture, design and planning at Verizon. “PICa’s team has exceptional optical talent and we look forward to watching the company grow.”
Next-generation network standards, including NG-PON2, are forecast to reach over $2 billion in total market size in 2024, up from ~$250 million in 2019, driven by a need for more capacity and service flexibility for 5G. As a leading innovator in this growing market, PICa has become an optical vendor that is fully NG-PON2 standard compliant and in production. PICa’s product roadmap includes other next-generation standards that will also benefit from cutting edge innovation.
“PICa is pioneering disruptive network technologies, and Verizon Ventures is excited to invest in the potential of solution-oriented optics for telecommunications applications,” said Samy Ben Aissa, managing director at Verizon Ventures. “The technology is modern and limitless — it can be applied to various network standards, allowing performance and lower cost for delivering broadband network access to endcustomers.”
The 200M Fund’s mission is to enable Portuguese technological companies to more effectively attract reference international investors like Verizon.
PICa has been awarded recognition on the Top 25 Portuguese Emerging Scaleups list in both 2018 and 2019.