Qualcomm Funds WiFi Upstart Fon
WiFi access services specialist Fon Wireless has raised $14 million (10.3 million) in a new round of funding led by comms chip giant Qualcomm.
Fon , which has developed an international network of 12 million shared WiFi access points in 1,000 cities by striking partnerships with fixed, mobile, and cable network operators, has been growing rapidly during the past year: In 2013 it announced partnerships with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), French operator SFR , and Dutch incumbent KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN). (See AT&T Strikes WiFi Deal With Fon and DT Preps Wi-Fi Push With FON.)
Now Fon has raised a new round of funds to expand further in the US, form relationships and build its business in new markets, and develop new hotspot technology and WiFi applications for small businesses. The latest round takes Fon's total funding, since it was founded in 2006 by telecom entrepreneur Martin Varsavsky, to more than 60 million ($81.4 million).
The funding from Qualcomm Ventures further expands Fon's relationship with Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), as Fon is basing the development of a new WiFi router (which incorporates a music-sharing application) on a chipset from Qualcomm Atheros . That new router is set to be launched in the first half of this year.
In addition, Qualcomm Atheros is integrating Fon's protocol stack into the software development kit (SDK) for its chipsets, making it easier for router manufacturers to build support for Fon into their products.
Fon, which was spotlighted in Light Reading's recent Top 10 Carrier WiFi Movers & Shakers feature, expects to have 35 million WiFi access points in its network by 2016.
For more on Fon's model, watch this video interview with Fon COO Alex Puregger.
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading