Small cells

Femto Firm Replaces CEO

The chief executive of UK femtocell specialist ip.access Ltd. , Stephen Mallinson, has left the company and been replaced by Simon Brown in what firm described as an "orderly transition." (As compared with a disorderly transition.)

Mallinson, who was at the helm of ip.access for the past 11 years, left the company to "pursue some other interests," according to Senior VP of Product and Marketing Andy Tiller.

Earlier this year, the company also appointed a new chief financial officer, Tim Arthur, who replaced former CFO Anthony Jones.

Despite these changes at the top, Tiller says that it's "business as usual" at the femto company and that a strategic shift was not underway.

"There really is not a big strategic change of any kind," says Tiller. "Steve felt after 11 years he had done his bit and it was time to bring some different skills and experience and energy in."

"We're not about to put ourselves up for sale or anything like that," he adds.

Before joining ip.access, Brown was chief executive of Telsis Ltd. and CEO and general manager of Neustar Inc. (NYSE: NSR) unit Neustar Next Generation Messaging (NGM) (which was formerly the mobile instant messaging company, Followap). He has also been a VP of sales and marketing in the EMEA region for Nokia Networks, before the joint venture with Siemens.

Why this matters
This is the company that powers the Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) femtocells for AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s 3G Microcell service. And according to Tiller, AT&T has the world's largest femtocell deployment. So while it may be a small company in the telecom market, it's a big player on the femto scene. (See Cisco Claims AT&T Femto as Its Own and AT&T's 3G Femtocells Now in More US Cities.)

The main question here is: Where does a company like ip.access go from here -- get bigger or get bought?

Brown will take the company on to the "next stage," according to Tiller, building on its "substantial deployments," to "create a bigger company." Some of that growth could come from new international markets such as India, for example, where ip.access is ramping up the research facility it recently established there. (See ip.access Takes Picocells to India and ip.access Opens R&D Center in India.)

But it's unlikely that the new CEO, especially as he's an external appointment, will simply maintain the status quo. And there are pressing decisions to be made.

For example, ip.access needs to take some firm decisions about its chipset sourcing strategy. Picochip is the incumbent supplier but Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) (also an investor in ip.access) is also now on board. Which of these two will be the lead supplier that supports the ip.access future product roadmap? (See Qualcomm, ip.access Team for Femtos , Qualcomm Invests in ip.access and CTIA 2010: Qualcomm Snags First Femto Wins.)

For more
Last year, ip.access was a finalist in Light Reading's Leading Lights awards in the private company of the year category. See these stories for more background on this femto firm:

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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