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Optical/IP

Friday Funding Roundup

Cheap WiFi, enterprise VOIP, and thousands of Japanese phone users help bring in the bacon in this week's funding roundup.

  • Fon : The upstart public WiFi provider has raised $13 million in VC money as it attempts to promote wireless connectivity sharing between users that buy into its low-cost access point scheme.

    The Madrid, Spain-based firm's objective is to build a global WiFi network with 1 million hotspots by 2010. To do this, FON users, or "foneros," are able to connect to the Internet via FON WiFi hotspots provided by other users. To facilitate the plan, FON offers the fonero a WiFi router for just $5. (See FON Launches WiFi Router.)

    The firm isn't yet revealing who its new investors are. FON previously raised around $22 million from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Skype Ltd. and others. (See FON Raises $21.7M.)

  • Meru Networks Inc. : The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based voice-over-WiFi startup has raised $27.6 million in a series D round with "investment and technology development firm" D.E. Shaw Group as the lead investor.

    The firm has raised more than $95 million since its inception in 2002. This latest round will be spent on expanding the sales force and R&D efforts.

    WLAN rival Trapeze Networks Inc. has also raised nearly $100 million since 2002. (See Trapeze Swings $30M .)

  • Gemini Mobile Technologies Inc. : On the back of its popularity in Japan, graphics and messaging software startup Gemini, of San Mateo, Calif., has grabbed $20 million from Goldman Sachs & Co.

    Gemini has created what it calls the "world's first 3D community platform for mobile phones that allows millions of users to chat, photo share, and shop in a rich graphical world within their phones." This is being used by SoftBank Corp. in Japan as the basis of its S! Town 3D interface, which has gathered more than 100,000 subscribers in the last four months.

    With the new cash, Gemini is hoping to expand its offerings around the globe.

    — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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