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12 December, 2011 - 09:38 By Tony Quested

ip.access raises $15m to expand reach and products

ip.access has already hoisted headcount in Cambridge

ip.access, the small cell innovator based in Cambridge UK, has raised an extra $15m from existing investors and a major new backer to underpin global growth and new product development.

ip.access already has its wireless technology live in over 60 markets and plans to grow its territorial reach and its product range.

Staff numbers are likely to continue growing. The company has already hoisted headcount in Cambridge as well as in India, the US, Latin America and both eastern and central Europe.

The new funding round was backed by the company’s existing investors Amadeus Capital Partners, Cisco, Intel Capital, Qualcomm, Rothschild & Cie Gestion, Scottish Equity Partners and TE Connectivity. One major new backer was also involved but prefers to remain anonymous.

CEO Simon Brown confirmed the cash will be used to continue the acceleration of the company’s small cell product development roadmap and deployment activities.

He said: “The small cell market has enormous growth potential – especially through the roll-out of high speed 3G and LTE networks with their dependency on small cell- architectures to supply the necessary network capacity.

“With our expertise in large scale femtocell deployments – recently passing the market-leading half-million deployed milestone – we are in a great position to capitalise on the growing market demand for small cells. We fundamentally understand both the economic and the network planning requirements of small cell systems.”

The company has recently outlined its vision for femtocells and picocells in private and public consumer, small office and enterprise applications, and is actively expanding its product portfolio to give operators the widest possible choice of small cell solutions.

To further smooth the introduction of public small cell networks, ip.access recently announced nanoConverge, an enhancement to its femto Access Controller and network management systems which allows operators to support 2G, 3G and in future 4G small cells on a common back-end platform, further extending the life of their current infrastructure investments.

Brown added: “Everything we are doing and developing at the moment is geared towards making it easier and more cost effective for operators to add coverage and capacity to their networks where it is needed most – in homes, in offices and in busy public locations. No other vendor has as much experience of delivering this additional resource, or as complete a portfolio of solutions, as ip.access.”

Industry analysts have been impressed by the company’s strategy for growth and particularly the launch of the nanoConverge gateway.

David Chambers at Think Femtocell said: “nanoConverge - a combined 2G and 3G gateway. This allows their existing 2G GSM customers to make an easy upgrade to add 3G service by adding a few cards into the server and connecting the new range of 3G femtocells.

“There are few small cell vendors offering both technologies today and I can't think of any that have this integrated into a single system. ip.access is unique in being able to supply a complete 2G and 3G combined femtocell system.”

“The comprehensive range of ip.access' portfolio, complete proven 2G and/or 3G femtocells with gateway and management systems, puts them in a strong technical position. With the high forecast demand for femtocells in the future, this pioneering company is surely well placed to expand its footprint.”

Peter Jarich, Mobile Ecosystem service director at leading analyst house Current Analysis says: “Even operators and vendors who’d previously questioned the value of small cells now acknowledge their importance, not only for next generation networks but also to provide extra coverage and capacity for existing mobile networks.

“A common small cell core, addressing multiple radio access technologies plays to this importance by helping keep operational complexity and cost down.”

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