Key UMA innovator Kineto raises more funds

Fixed mobile convergence rally continues to gain momentum even when we have yet to come across large scale successful deployment stories. Yesterday Milpitas, CA based Kineto Wireless announced that it has raised $10 million in Series C round of funding. The funding round was led by  InterDigital with an investment of $5 million, and also participated by Kineto’s existing investors including Sutter Hill Ventures, Venrock Associates, 3i, Oak Investment Partners, SeaPoint Ventures and Storm Ventures. Kineto is one of the key innovators of UMA(Unlicensed Mobile Access) technology that enables call handover between WiFi and wireless operator network on a dual-mode handset.

We also have Seattle-based Sotto Wireless looking to take FMG over to SMBs. Selling any new technology to SMBs is tough ’cause of the obvious lack of resources for implementing and maintaining new systems. Anyway, Sotto will be providing both hardware and software piece to enable the VoIP part. Right now they are testing out their product on Nokia’s dual-mode handset E61 and also looking into some Linksys options. Biggest part that will hold back Sotto uptake is that it has yet to implement hand-off of voice calls between cellular and Wi-Fi networks. Still Sotto is proceeding ahead with implementing its plan while also working towards round 2 of venture funding. Sotto had earlier raised $8 million in funding from venture capital firms Ignition Partners and Vantage Point Venture Partners.

Last month I had written about Mountain View based Nuvoiz showcasing its enterprise targeted softphone at DEMO. Simens and DiVitas Networks are couple of other companies competing in this space. All said and done, one of the biggest challenge each of these service providers will face is as they go alone is that nothing stops major wireless carriers from implementing these solutions. With Deutsche Telekom and its subsidiary T-Mobile, BT, Orange already offering consumer facing WiFi-wireless call switching plans, I am not about the strategy for these upstarts. Basic idea of going for the lower price path would again be a loosers game for everyone. However working as technology partners for carriers, just like Kineto, beyond US should prove to be more effective.

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