Taqua and Kineto Wireless, partners in powering voice-over-WiFi (VoWiFi) for Sprint, are now one and the same, as Taqua confirmed Wednesday it has acquired the WiFi vendor.
In the Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) deployment, its first as a team, Kineto Wireless Inc. 's Smart WiFi Android client powers WiFi calling over a user's home or office network by tapping into Taqua LLC 's virtual mobile core to determine the strongest signal and connect to either the WiFi or cellular network. Kineto, now Taqua, CMO Ken Kolderup says it made sense for the companies to go from partners to an acquisition given the complementary nature of their technologies. (See Taqua Lets Mobile Users Talk Over WiFi and Sprint Selects Kineto for WiFi Calling.)
In fact, since the Sprint win was formally announced in February, it has racked up several dozen more wireless operator customers -- two of which it plans to announce on Monday, who were asking the companies to combine, Kolderup says.
"We're working together well," he adds. "We have no overlap in product or organization and were already working together in development, sales and business development."
Kineto tackles the technology from the smartphone side of things through partnerships with all the Android device makers to run calls over WiFi and seamlessly transition between it and cellular. It is behind T-Mobile US Inc. 's VoWiFi service, which it has been offering since 2007, although T-Mobile -- like Sprint -- chooses not to enable the handoff feature. (See Kineto Beefs Up WiFi Calling Features and Taqua Extends VoWiFi to UMTS.)
Kineto and Taqua also hold important VoWiFi patents that they were able to combine, along with their respective employees. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it officially closed two weeks ago leaving all 100 employees in place, save Kineto CEO Jeff Brown and CFO Martin Hernandez who both left the company. The combined company has moved into Taqua's headquarters in Richardson, Texas.
Kineto had been on the scene since 2001, raising $45.4 million in 10 rounds of funding from six investors, including venture capitalists and Motorola Solutions. The well-funded company has relationships with nearly every Android handset maker and an extensive operator customer roster, making this more of a merger of technologies than a big company gobbling up a weaker player. Taqua, which has been around since 1998, has only raised $20 million in one round from six venture capitalists, but it has its hands in multiple parts of the mobile value chain, also including small cells, backhaul and voice-over-LTE.
Wireless operators are starting to dip their toes into WiFi calling, but you can bet the market is going to take off much more quickly moving forward. Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) has included support for WiFi calling in iOS8 via a homegrown proprietary method, removing the one barrier holding operators back, according to Kolderup. Now that all Androids and iOS devices are covered, he expects a domino effect of launches to occur. (See T-Mobile Jazzed With WiFi Calling on New Apple iOS.)
That's including cable companies, too, who have increasingly been building out their WiFi footprints as well. Kolderup says they are in talks with several MSOs, as well as alternative service providers and MVNOs, all looking for ways to make the most of existing WiFi footprints.
"We're a one-stop shop now to do [VoWiFi]," adds Frederick Reynolds, Taqua's VP of marketing. "For a large CLEC, MVNO or operator, they can turn to Taqua and have the client perspective on all Androids and a core that works with standards-based WiFi calling clients like Apple’s iOS 8."
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading