SignalSet Hops Out of Stealth Mode

Startup SignalSet Inc. emerged from stealth mode this week to show off remote carrier switching technology that lets connected devices hop between GSM and CDMA networks in real time to seek the best reception. (See SignalSet Gets Funding, Signs Major Deals.)

Despite its low profile to date, the two-year-old company already has its first Fortune 500 customer, deals with Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. in the bag and a $6 million round of funding.

SignalSet is focusing on the machine-to-machine (M2M) market and it has won its first customer in the transportation market, where coverage gaps can be troublesome for cross-country trips. Of course, many other mobile phone users grapple with the same coverage problems, but it would be harder to convince operators to ink this kind of deal for their consumer business, says SignalSet CEO Peter van der Gracht.

"As a manufacturer, how do you choose the carrier and radio that makes sense? You can't," van der Gracht says. "Having one [product] that can serve any geography is really resonating with this customer base."

What SignalSet is pitching is more than just roaming agreements. Its technology configures different radios so they can access the appropriate carrier frequencies and integrates them on the backend to appear as one network. The upstart has the intellectual property in place for the technology, which is then managed by IT administrators.

Why this matters
SignalSet would seem to face the obvious challenge of carriers not wanting to promote nor partner with their competition, but that hasn't been the case in M2M. Their desire to connect billions of devices to grow their incremental revenue outweighs any resistance to playing nice.

"We found that, frankly, the whole industry was held back in the case of OEMs with national footprint," van der Gracht says of the telematics space.

SignalSet inked its deal with T-Mobile before AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) announced plans to acquire it, but van der Gracht believes AT&T will be receptive to its technology as well. [Ed. note: That'll tick Sprint off.]

Don't expect your iPhone to work on AT&T and Verizon Wireless anytime soon, however. That utopia isn't in SignalSet's sights -- yet.

For more
Read up on carrier strategies for M2M below:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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