Google has invested $25 million in Ubiquisys, a British company developing so called femtocell access points for homes.
Ubiquisys femocell access points create a short-range wireless link for the customer’s mobile phone, improving signal strength indoors. Ubiquisys expects to start consumer tests on its products in the second half of this year with commercial availability in the second quarter next year.
The three-year-old company has now raised a total of $42 million with backers including Accel Partners, Atlas Venture and Advent Venture Partners.
Ubiquisys femocells operate on local home networks, and can be hooked to land-lines or through VoIP using a home’s existing broadband connections. Carriers would sell the technology to consumers, pitching it as a way they can lower mobile subscription costs. According to a report from Dow Jones, the device is expected to sell for about $100-$150, and be brought to market in 2008.
SIM setup and identity mean that only users with the bill payer’s permission can make calls. In addition, because each device has a unique network identity, operators can offer customers special low-cost ‘home zone’ rates.
Not to be confused with Unlicensed Mobile Access that automatically switches from Voice over WiFi to cellular (like T-Mobile’s Hotspot@home service), Ubiquisys repeats cellular service indoors. They claim voice over WiFi is as much a threat as a solution for cellular carriers — making UMA too much of a risk for the mobile sector for too little return.
The Ubiquisys ZoneGate femtocell offers mobile users high-quality mobile coverage in the home using their usual 3G cell phones. The device plugs into an existing home broadband gateway or is built into a gateway product that includes WiFi, DSL, Ethernet, phone ports and USB.
‘Our mission is to empower mobile carriers to bring compelling service packages into homes using our ZoneGate solution,’ said Chris Gilbert, CEO Ubiquisys…In June 2007 ABI Research rated Ubiquisys number one femtocell vendor in a survey of the top ten players in the sector, based on product innovation and implementation.
Indoor base stations using GSM, W-CDMA (including HSPA), CDMA2000 (including EV-DO), 3G LTE, WiMAX and WiBro, are being developed but not all of these applications will be commercially justified, says research firm Analysys. By far the greatest opportunity will be the use of 3G femtocells in households, says Analysys, where they provide high-quality coverage as well as improved tariffs and services for customers.
Does this mean a Google phone is in the works? And how about a Mobile WiMAX version?