ip.access, a player in the nascent femtocell and picocell technologies, hasannounced that Cisco® has made an investment in the company. Terms of the investment were not disclosed.
Already cash-positive with its existing 2G picocell business, ip.access has secured funding from an impressive array of industry supporters for its breakthrough Oyster 3GTM femtocell, which is currently in trials with major mobile network operators globally. Existing ip.access investors include Scottish Equity Partners, Rothschild Gestion, Intel Capital, Amadeus Capital Partners, ADC and Motorola Ventures.
Building on ip.access’ unique experience in cellular-over-IP technology, the Oyster 3G femtocell is a low-power wireless access point which plugs into a residential broadband DSL or cable connection to deliver a 3G mobile phone signal indoors. With operators increasingly seeking to exploit the benefits of all-IP networks, femtocells are a natural choice for delivering cost-effective 3G coverage and high-speed data capacity to mobile phone users at home. Analysts are predicting a huge market for femtocells: a recent report from IDATE forecasts that 10 million UMTS femtocells will ship worldwide in 2010, rising to 18 million in 2011.
Operators plan to integrate femtocell technology within residential gateways and set-top boxes, such as those offered by Cisco’s consumer products business. These integrated products will help enable fixed broadband and mobile services to be bundled together. They will also ultimately help enable mobile phones to better communicate with PCs, TVs and other devices in the ‘Connected Home’ – for example, a slideshow of photos captured on a camera phone could be displayed on a TV set.
“We are delighted to have Cisco as an investor,” said Stephen Mallinson, CEO of ip.access. “As the worldwide leader in Internet Protocol-based networks, Cisco brings complementary skills and experience to address the needs of operator and consumer customers.”
ip.access’ 2G picocells are already deployed in more than 30 live networks around the world. The company was recently selected as a Red Herring 100 Global Award winner. It also won numerous awards during 2007 for its Oyster 3G femtocell technology, including a Global Mobile award for ‘Best Radio Access Product’, Light Reading’s ‘Leading Light’ Award for ‘Best New Product from a Private Company’, and a World Communication Award for ‘Best Technology Foresight’.