Links for the global mobileworld

Set up in 2014, SRS specialises in high-performance software for wireless systems, writes Trish Dromey.

Making waves in the global telecommunications industry with cutting-edge wireless services, Cork start-up Software Radio Systems (SRS) is working to connect business jets to the internet, and to put the latest 4G technology in the hands of emergency first responders.

“We are involved in a number of groundbreaking projects with a range of partners in the US, Canada, Asia, and across Europe from providing 4G network coverage across the surface of the planet to providing ultra-efficient live video streams via satellite,” said company managing director and co-founder Paul Sutton.

Set up in 2014, the company specialises in high-performance software for wireless systems. “SRS software stacks perform the key wireless functions of 4G mobile handsets and cell towers and provide the building blocks for the development of a whole range of novel telecommunications systems and services,” explained Mr Sutton.

“We now work directly with some of the largest tier one telecommunications equipment manufacturers and internet tech giants in the world,’’ he said.

Headquartered in Cork, with offices in Dublin and Barcelona, SRS is unusual in that it is a profitable company with a multimillion turnover which never had to raise funding or invest in sales and marketing. “Companies tend to come to us,” said Mr Sutton, explaining that it is one of only a handful of companies operating in this specialist space globally.

Mr Sutton was carrying out post-doctoral research at the Connect Research Centre in Trinity College when he and fellow researcher Ismael Gomez were approached by a consortium of Italian companies working with the European Space Agency. “The consortium was seeking assistance in developing a prototype communications device with satellite and terrestrial internet connectivity. It needed software for a 4G radio implementation which really matched our skill set at the time,’’ he said. Mr Sutton set up SRS with Mr Gomez and Connect director Linda Doyle.

Securing European Space Agency funding with the help of Enterprise Ireland, SRS completed the one year project. In 2015, it secured a number of small EU-funded research projects. “In 2016 we landed two large commercial contracts — one with a Canadian company and one in the US for a company called SmartSky, an air-to-ground connectivity provider for commercial aircraft,” he said. Taking on more projects last year led to it hiring five more engineers, bringing the staff numbers to eight people.

One of the new projects was a $1.5m (€1.28m) contract with the US National Institute of Standards and Technology involved research and development (R&D) on cutting-edge wireless technology for emergency first responders.

In February, US satellite communications company VT iDirect linked with SRS in a project which aims to transform multimedia streaming to mobile devices. Partially funded by the European Space Agency, the research is being carried out with a VT iDirect company, based in Killarney.

Mr Sutton said that in developing the business one of the things SRS has done differently from other companies is releasing much of its software publicly under open source licenses.

“This has given us publicity and exposure. The software is being downloaded thousands of times every month by researchers from around the world and it has enabled some of the most cutting-edge telecommunications R&D work currently being carried out,’’ he said, explaining many of the company’s clients first learned of SRS through their open-source projects.

Turnover has been doubling every year since 2014, and it expects to achieve similar growth this year. Revenue comes from commercial licensing of its software, as well as from developing custom services for clients, consultancy, and the sale of off-the-shelf products such as Airscope, an advanced over-the-air analyser for 4G networks. While continuing to work on 4G projects, the company is already looking towards a 5G future and is now working on three projects in this area.

Although yet unable to share specific details, Mr Sutton said SRS is also involved in a project involving the development of a completely new telecommunications system. “Set for release to the market in two or three years – this will be unlike anything already out there,’’ he said.


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