Swindon mobile tech pioneer Ubiquisys in £205m takeover by Cisco

April 4, 2013

Swindon-based Ubiquisys, which makes parts for mobile phone networks, has been bought by US giant Cisco for $310m (£206m).
Founded in 2004, the highly-innovative firm make small cells (also known as femtocells) – small phone masts that shore up data capacity in mobile networks and which can be used to create powerful wifi hotspots in offices or public places.
They provide a low-power signal much closer to mobile users than traditional networks, resulting in better voice quality, higher data performance and better battery life.
Ubiquisys’ small cells are allowing operators to cope with increasing demand for data without involving major infrastructure costs.
Last August Ubiquisys, based on Swindon’s Windmill Hill Business Park, raised $19m (£12.6m) taking the amount of capital it has raised to $81m (£53.8m). It has shipped more than 50,000 public small cells and its adaptive radio technology is used by 70 network operators.
Ubiquisys investor Mike Chalfen, of London-based Advent Venture Partners, said the high value of the sale to Cisco reflects the value of mobile data.
“Mobile networks are growing to a massive extent and small cells are one of the most cost effective ways of raising capacity,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
The masts are small enough to fit in a garage or a pub and can bolster 3G coverage in crowded areas. The technology is set to become more important with the rise of 4G or LTE mobile networks, as small cells move from boosting the network to becoming a core part of its infrastructure.
Last month ABI Research ranked Ubiquisys as number one vendor for indoor small cell access points in its Competitive Assessment report on Innovation and Commercial Momentum.
Ubiquisys was founded by former Lucent Technologies senior staff Will Franks and Pete Keevill. Will was inspired by his frustrations of poor mobile coverage and high mobile costs at home.
Prior to this, he developed the hugely-successful wireless innovation centres for Lucent Technologies – inventing and developing innovative solutions based on cellular, wifi and IMS technologies. He also led Lucent’s EMEA business development for fixed wireless.
Previously Will was with Racal Electronics’ radio division where he held a number of key positions including head of their Saudi Arabian operation.
Pete Keevill worked for 11 years at Lucent Technologies where, as technical director, he had global responsibility for Lucent’s UMTS base station ASIC development activity, co-ordinating a multi-disciplinary engineering team of around 100 people in five countries. Before Lucent, Pete led a digital TV silicon design team for Pioneer, and has worked in a variety of roles in the EDA software industry. He holds a MEng in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from the University of Bath.
Ubiquisys’ investors include Accel Partners, Advent Venture Partners, Atlas Venture, 5 Continents Consulting Group (5CCG), Pacific Venture Partners, SerComm Corporation, UMC Capital Corporation, Yasuda Enterprise Development Co and T-Mobile Venture Fund.

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