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Got Cable in the House? This Old High-Speed Network

Jacobs School alumnus Anton Monk
Jacobs School alumnus Anton Monk is a co-founder of Entropic Communications which makes chips that enable coaxial cables to double as high-speed home networks.

The coaxial cables that carry cable - TV shows and the Internet into and throughout a home can double as a local network, shuttling HD video, music, video games and photos from one electronic device to another at blazing speeds. One of the pioneers of this coaxial renaissance is Anton Monk, a Jacobs School alumnus and electrical engineer who earned a Ph.D. ('94) and bachelor's degree ('89) at UCSD. Monk also met his future wife at UCSD - Barbara Chernus - an ECE alumna (B.S. '89,M.S. '92).

The company Monk co-founded in 2001, Entropic Communications, makes chips that enable coaxial cables to double as high-speed networks with no required modification to the cables themselves. The technology enables users to record "American Idol" or "Grey's Anatomy" with a DVR in the living room and watch them in a bedroom thanks to an Entropic chip set. It enables digital content to move between a TV and another electronic device via coaxial cables at up to 175 megabits per second (Mbps). Monk says future generations of Entropic products will support data transfer speeds of 400 to 800 Mbps.

The same network can move digital pictures, home videos and other personal content from a home office PC to a living room widescreen TV. The networks also serve as Internet backbones and can be used to improve Wi-Fi coverage.

Networked Home

In the last year, Monk, who is now the VP Communications Technology, and his colleagues at Entropic have been moving nearly as fast as the data on their home networks: the company grew from 80 to 280 employees - in part due to acquisition of RF Magic - another company with ties to UCSD. In addition, Entropic (ENTR) went public in December 2007 and trades on the NASDAQ Stock Market.

When asked to advise Jacobs students interested in entrepreneurship, Monk suggests business classes as well as other efforts to broaden one's horizons. More specifically, he advised students to strive to always think as systems engineers.

"Don't get stuck doing just one thing. Understand the system you are trying to build. This is key to understanding what customers want, which is the key to anticipating what they will need in the future."

Reflecting on his company's own future, Monk says Entropic is looking for "really good people from all electrical engineering and computer science disciplines: both senior engineers and recent graduates."

Monk was part of the team at Entropic that invented and developed the chip technology that enabled coaxial cable to serve as high-speed networks. Entropic is a founding member of the Multimedia over Coax Alliance or MoCA. This global home networking consortium sets standards for the distribution of video and other multimedia entertainment over coaxial cable.

Entropic

Ties between Entropic and the Jacobs School are strong. Larry Milstein served as Monk's Ph.D. advisor. Paul Siegel, Gabriel Rebeiz, George Papen, Bang-Sup Song, Larry Larson and Ian Galton are just some of the Jacobs School faculty members who are collaborating or have collaborated with Entropic.

In addition, Entropic is a member of the Corporate Affiliates Program at the Jacobs School and has hired many UCSD students as interns and a number of UCSD graduates as full-time employees.

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