Light Reading
Google adds to its broadband access technology investments by joining the B round funding of femtocell startup Ubiquisys

Google Invests in 3G Startup

Ray Le Maistre
7/20/2007
50%
50%

The femtocell market is hot. Following weeks of major carrier RFP news and vendor product and partnership announcements, the 3G home base station market stepped up another gear today as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) emerged as an investor in British startup Ubiquisys Ltd. (See Femtocell Startup Pockets $25M.)

UbiquiSys says it can't say anything about Google's involvement, other than that it has joined the femtocell vendor's original investors -- Accel Partners , Atlas Venture , and Advent Ventures -- in the $25 million B round. UbiquiSys has now raised $37 million in total since its inception in 2004. (See UbiquiSys Gets $12M.)

So why has Google invested in Ubiquisys? Well, it's one of the leading players in the emerging femtocell market. A femtocell is a home base station, a low-cost, low-power 3G cellular radio system that sits in the home or office, feeding calls and data sessions back to mobile operators' core networks via broadband connections. (See 3G Base Stations Hit Home.)

And these small devices are going to be pivotal in the strategies of mobile operators that want to boost their 3G coverage inside buildings, where signals can become quite weak. Major carriers such as Orange (NYSE: FTE) and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) are engaging with femtocell vendors, with Vodafone's CEO Arun Sarin commenting on the technology's importance during his company's second-quarter update Thursday. (See Vodafone CEO Seeks Cheap Femtos, Vodafone RFP Fuels Femtocells, FT Preps Femtocell RFP, Is AT&T Putting Out Femto Feelers?, and Softbank Trials Femtocell.)

Once installed, a femtocell, which will provide a strong short-range 3G signal that can be used by up to six simultaneous users that have standard 3G devices (phones, data cards), will become one of the ways in which broadband connectivity is enhanced within a user's home. It will be supplied as a standalone product not dissimilar to a home WiFi router, or integrated in a home gateway. (See Femto Players Gun for Gateways.)

Google says it's that broadband-enhancing capability that has attracted its dollars. In an email response to questions, a representative stated that Google is "committed to promoting alternative platforms for users to access the Internet. Meraki Networks Inc. , Fon Wireless Ltd. , and Current Communications Group LLC are examples of companies in which we have invested previously with alternative access in mind." (See Google Invests in Indoor Mesh, More About Meraki, Google, Skype Back WiFi Startup, and Google Backs Powerline Carrier.)

And there's no doubt that Google's backing and association with the technology will attract even greater attention to the femtocell market.

But is that Google's only interest? Investing in a 3G home base station startup gives Google insight into, and influence over, the development of home base station technology, and provides the Web services giant with ready access to the required end-user products, should it ever need them.

And why would it need them? Because Google is thinking of bidding in the upcoming 700MHz wireless spectrum auction in the U.S.

Google, in its public policy blog, has stated its interest in bidding for the spectrum, due to be auctioned later this year. And even if it doesn't bid -- which it admits is likely, due to the cost of building the network infrastructure needed to make best use of the airwaves -- Google wants the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to impose conditions that would give non license-holders access to the spectrum on a wholesale basis.

Not surprisingly, such conditions are being vehemently opposed by the likes of Verizon Wireless and the wireless industry body, CTIA .

Google isn't commenting directly on its prospective wireless service plans, either as a spectrum owner or wholesale customer. "We don't comment on what we might or might not to do in the future," says a spokesperson.

It also declines to comment on: how much it has invested in Ubiquisys (though one industry source suggests its involvement is significant rather than piecemeal); the size of its stake in the startup; whether it gets a seat on the Ubiquisys board; or whether it plans any further investments in home networking companies.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
digits
50%
50%
digits,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:05:11 PM
re: Google Invests in 3G Startup
Just as we were publishing this story, Google announced that, if the FCC adopts a favorable license framework, it is prepared to bid $4.6 billion for a slice of spectrum.

Look out for the full story on Unstrung shortly....

Ray Le Maistre
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Building the Case for NFV

12|19|14   |   02:14   |   (0) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit, James Feger, VP, Network Strategy & Development at CenturyLink, talks about how the US operator is approaching virtual network functions from an operational and business case perspective.
LRTV Interviews
Liberty Global Sees Business Goldmine

12|18|14   |     |   (0) comments


Steen Sorensen, VP of business services for Liberty Global, explains where the giant international MSO sees growth potential.
LRTV Documentaries
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (2) comments


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
LRTV Interviews
TWC Business Looks Beyond $3B

12|10|14   |     |   (0) comments


TWC Business Services chief Phil Meeks explains how his unit has reached $3 billion in annual revenues and what its plans are for next year.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
T-Mobile, BlackBerry Flirt With Reuniting
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/17/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Comcast Launches 4K Streaming Service
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 12/18/2014
US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/18/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive