Light Reading

Google Invests in 3G Startup

Ray Le Maistre

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        ADD A COMMENT
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
From The Founder
Steve Saunders provides an overview of white box networking and introduces a new "slim line" version of the OSI 7-layer model.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
Between the CEOs
Centec on Ethernet Switching

11|26|15   |   09:58   |   (0) comments

Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
LRTV Custom TV
Delivering Service Agility in the Virtualization Era

11|25|15   |   5.41   |   (0) comments

Interview with Massimo Fatato, WW OSS Business Lead, Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Wagner’s Ring
How Might Open Source Fail?

11|24|15   |     |   (10) comments

Open source, SDN, and NFV are looking inevitable – but performance, standards proliferation and regulatory capture could derail the movement.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Lifecycle Orchestration – a Fresh Vision for Telco

11|23|15   |   6.40   |   (0) comments

Simon Osborne, CTO Comptel, and Heavy Reading's Caroline Chappell reveal the business impacts of new SDN and NFV, and what the term service orchestration actually means. Together they define Lifecycle Service Orchestration and how the virtualized future will look for telecoms operators.
Between the CEOs
Cisco's Virtual Role in Saudi

11|20|15   |   12:15   |   (2) comments

Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Leads With Kubernetes for Cloud PaaS

11|19|15   |   08:26   |   (0) comments

Huawei is looking to Kubernetes as a key tool for building robust open source technologies for customers and partners, said Ying Xiong, chief architect of cloud platform at Huawei, in an interview with Light Reading West Coast Bureau Chief Mitch Wagner at the recent Kubecon conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
WiC in London: The Highlight Reel

11|19|15   |   5:33   |   (1) comment

NetCracker's Mervat El Dabae headlines an inspiring morning in London with help from leading women from Vodafone, TalkTalk, Hyperoptics and Ciena.
LRTV Documentaries
Why Saudi's So Hot for New Tech

11|19|15   |   05:07   |   (0) comments

Light Reading's Steve Saunders reports from Saudi Arabia, a hyper-competitive market desperate to embrace the next generation of communications technologies and services.
LRTV Custom TV
Why Data Models Deliver More Value Than Information Models

11|19|15   |   5.08   |   (0) comments

Stefan Vallin argues that more automation is needed to manage end-to-end services and the hybrid networks they run on, and that data models are key to achieving this.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
SDN Management & Orchestration in the WAN

11|17|15   |   7.20   |   (0) comments

Carol Wilson and Packet Design CTO Cengiz Alaettinoglu discuss CSPs' SDN service delivery and assurance requirements. Learn about a modular approach to building automated control, orchestration and management functions for the WAN that are policy- and analytics-driven.
LRTV Custom TV
Flash Networks: Optimizing for Radio Spectral Efficiency

11|17|15   |   3:34   |   (0) comments

Today most optimization vendors only focus on optimizing voice or data. Ofer Gottfried, Flash Networks' CTO, shows how improving data throughput and maximizing spectral efficiency reduces capital and operating expenses while also providing a platform for user engagement.
LRTV Custom TV
Making Pay-TV User Experiences Millennial-Friendly

11|16|15   |   6:42   |   (0) comments

The unique challenge of reaching and engaging Millennials is driving pay-TV video experience transformation that can include higher quality UIs, viewing of multiple content streams at once and seamless transitions between handheld devices and the television.
Allot MobileTrends Report H2/2015 reveals how daily online behavior can be used to discover smarter ways to profile customers and propose valuable, real-time offers to them.
Hot Topics
Samsung to Sell Wireless Networking Unit?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Samsung: No Sale of Wireless Unit
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/25/2015
How Might Open Source Fail?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/24/2015
Sprint to Get $1.2B From New Leasing Venture
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 11/23/2015
Networking Shines in HP's Gloomy Final Earnings
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 11/25/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
December 15, 2015
Virtualizing Cable Services
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Centec CEO James Sun talks to Steve Saunders about Ethernet switching and the white box revolution.
Light Reading founder and CEO Steve Saunders talks with Zayan Sadek, Regional Manager at Cisco Systems, about the competitive communications services market and advance of virtualization in Saudi Arabia.
Cats with Phones
Can't Find the Phone on Thanksgiving? Click Here
Check under the cat! (hint: bottom right)
Live Digital Audio

Broadband speeds are ramping up across Europe as the continent, at its own pace, follows North America towards a gigabit society. But there are many steps to take on the road to gigabit broadband availability and a number of technology options that can meet the various requirements of Europe’s high-speed fixed broadband network operators. During this radio show we will look at some of the catalysts for broadband network investments and examine the menu of technology options on offer, including vectoring and for copper plant evolution and the various deployment possibilities for FTTH/B.