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Welsh billionaire backs broadband futures

Sir Terry Matthews slams network hype

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Welsh billionaire Sir Terry Matthews outlined the latest advances in broadband technology during a seminar at the London Stock Exchange today. Sir Terry told an audience of journalists and analysts that the need for next generation communication networks remains compelling despite the financial problems of many companies in the networking sector over recent years.

Matthews said he always sought to build solid businesses and had "zero time" for financially mismanaged firms like WorldCom or the dot com boosters in the networking market who came unstuck when the bubble burst.

"Some of the mobile and router vendors were guilty of hyping things like there was no tomorrow," Matthews told El Reg. "I hate hype. Nothing I have done has been an overnight success; I've always tried to build solid - not flaky - businesses. There were astronomical valuations in the dot-com era but that's over now and people are behaving appropriately."

"Next generation networks deliver tangible user and business benefits. The technology will progress with or without the hype as surely as we moved from canals to railways," he added.

The 61-year-old Welsh-born, Ottawa-based telecomms tycoon was making a rare visit to London to champion the networking companies he has invested in through Wesley Clover Corporation, his private holding company. Wesley Clover continued to support its investments throughout the telecoms downturn and currently has a portfolio of some 20 private companies. Some set up mini-demos in the Stock Exchange today designed to woo potential investors.

Among the companies exhibiting were Newport Networks, which floated on AIM back in May, Ubiquity Software Corporation and content-based routing firm Solace Systems.

Sir Terry's previous successes include Newbridge Networks, which he founded in 1986 and sold to French company Alcatel for $7.1bn in 2000. He also co-founded Mitel in 1971 before selling majority control of it to BT for £350m in 1985. He subsequently re-purchased Mitel's communication systems division in 2001. Matthews has also invested heavily in property. His £120m Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales will host Golf's Ryder Cup in 2010. ®

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