Another VoIP company has been kicked to the curb — TollBridge Technologies has ceased operations.
According to a company spokesman, TollBridge was unable to secure funding, but it is unclear what will happen next. Bankruptcy? An asset sale? More than likely, the answer to both is yes.
In June of last year, the company said it had secured $22 million in funding, but now needed another influx of funds to keep operations running. Since opening its doors in 1998, TollBridge has burned through $82 million in funding.
TollBridge vendor competitor Jetstream closed up shop in April. The voice-over-DSL hardware provider blamed the financial climate in the telecommunications industry for its inability to continue as a stand-alone business. Shortly after the filing, Paradyne Networks purchased Jetstream's assets and intellectual property. A similar scenario will likely play out at TollBridge.
John Chang, senior analyst at Allied Business Intelligence Inc., agrees that TollBridge will likely meet the fate that befell Jetstream. If that happens, he expects that TollBridge's technology will live on as other vendors, including the possibility of Arris, snap up TollBridge's assets.
Despite its inability to secure more funding, TollBridge was making some progress in the cable telephony sector, including participation in Comcast Corp.'s recently completed VoIP technical trial in the Detroit, Mich. area. In that trial, Comcast tested IP telephony in the access network by leveraging TollBridge's TB300 gateway, Arris' C4 cable modem termination system and Motorola Broadband's cable modems.
In that scenario, Comcast used TollBridge's gateway to tap into an traditional Class 5 switch. The TB300 was also designed to migrate to a pure-IP PacketCable-complaint network.
What remains unanswered is what impact TollBridge's shutdown will have on its business relationship with Arris. In a deal signed earlier this year, Arris agreed to re-sell TollBridge's gateway equipment as part of its "CompleteVoice" cable telephony suite, which also includes multimedia terminal adapters, telephony modems and CMTSs. It is possible that Arris could swoop in and snatch up some of TollBridge's assets and intellectual property. Arris officials were not immediately available for comment.
Chang says the downfall of TollBridge doesn't mean the future of VoIP is in question, particularly in the cable sector. "There is a market for it," he says. "The venture funding has just dried up." He added that other VoIP gateway upstarts, including Nuera, could step in and benefit from TollBridge's funding collapse.