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Vodafone Reaches Out to Silicon Valley

Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) opened a research and development center in Silicon Valley on Friday in an effort to discover and bring to market new products and services for its global mobile networks.

The Redwood City, Calif.-based center, called Vodafone Xone, will seek out new technologies from startups and venture capital portfolios that can potentially become Vodafone applications or services. The facility has office and test space for up to 24 companies.

Companies will be able to test their technologies in the Xone's lab as well as on Vodafone's European networks, which are connected through a dedicated backbone. The center will also collaborate with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ)'s innovation centers in San Francisco and Waltham, Mass., which will give some companies access to the Verizon Wireless 's development LTE network in the U.S.

In addition, companies participating in the Xone could also receive investment from Vodafone's venture capital arm, Vodafone Ventures.

Why this matters
Vodafone is not the first European telecom company to set up shop in Silicon Valley. Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), for example, has the office of its chief technology officer based there.

But the location is nonetheless significant because it is a sign of an industry shift: The largest European mobile operator -- and one of the world's largest by revenue -- has gone to the U.S. to look for mobile service innovation. (See Europe Set for LTE Laggard Status.)

The operator hasn't turned its R&D back on Europe, though. Vodafone has major innovation centers in Madrid and Dusseldorf, which are dedicated to network research and development.

Xone is different, however, as its focus is on applications and services with major input from third parties, rather than the underlying and supporting infrastructure. Vodafone has long understood the importance of focusing on new Web services development and has a senior technology post dedicated to next-generation data applications strategy. (See Vodafone Seeks New Tech Strategy Guru.)

For more
Here's the latest news on Vodafone: — Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:54:22 PM
re: Vodafone Reaches Out to Silicon Valley

That's what I'd like to know too. And I would sure like to see that success story if it's out there. 


My first thought about this was why didn't Vodafone set up this center in Europe or the U.K? But then, I guess Silicon Valley sounds more credible than Siicon Roundabout or Silicon Fen.

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:54:22 PM
re: Vodafone Reaches Out to Silicon Valley

Vodafone's Xone (shades of Xohm!) makes it four wireless service providers with "innovation labs" or whatever you call them in Silicon Valley. My question is -- do real developers actually find these places useful? Is there a single success story where some poor developer suddenly found success because of proximity to telco engineers and then got some biz bucks from the finance arm?


Or... do most developers just write programs or build devices by themselves, perhaps with private VC money? Would a VC want any of its companies in these operations?

kaps 12/5/2012 | 4:54:22 PM
re: Vodafone Reaches Out to Silicon Valley

Vodafone's Xone (shades of Xohm!) makes it four wireless service providers with "innovation labs" or whatever you call them in Silicon Valley. My question is -- do real developers actually find these places useful? Is there a single success story where some poor developer suddenly found success because of proximity to telco engineers and then got some biz bucks from the finance arm?


Or... do most developers just write programs or build devices by themselves, perhaps with private VC money? Would a VC want any of its companies in these operations?

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:54:20 PM
re: Vodafone Reaches Out to Silicon Valley

I have the same questions. It seems more like an easy way for carriers to fulfill RFPs than really help developers and the entire industry. It's early days though, but I'd like to see more results.

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