Fibre-optic cables will be used to bring ultra-fast broadband to 1m British homes by 2012, but few people will be aware of the integrated circuits the system depends on. These convert the transmitted signals from electrical to optical and back again, and are made by companies such as Bristol-based Phyworks. The company exports the components to America and Asia, where they are put into bigger units that are sold to network operators such as BT. The company was founded in 2001 by Stephen King and Nick Weiner, and its sales have grown 168% a year from £262,000 in 2005 to £5.1m in 2008.
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