ip.access ltd, a leading developer of in-building wireless picocell solutions, today announced the conclusion of an £8.5 million financing round led by Scottish Equity Partners, including Intel Capital Corporation and Rothschild & Cie Gestion. The investment will be used to finance the expansion of ip.access' current successful second-generation pico basestation business and to develop cost-effective third-generation access points for use in homes and small businesses to support fixed-mobile convergence.
ip.access was founded in 1999 as a spin-out from TTPCom to provide mobile network operators with solutions to improve in-building cellular coverage and capacity. A recent global survey showed 70% of users experience coverage problems at work, and 34% have changed operators as a result of poor coverage. Cellular capacity in buildings is becoming even more important as networks migrate to 3G and as call minutes move from fixed to mobile.
ip.access produces the world's smallest GSM basestations which are designed to be deployed inside buildings and communicate with operators' infrastructure using ubiquitous broadband IP links. The company has enjoyed increasing success and its nanoGSMT equipment is used by many operators including T-Mobile USA, Telfort (Netherlands), Spring Mobil (Sweden), Smart (Philippines), and Eurotel (Czech Republic). In 2004, the Company signed a global OEM agreement with Siemens Mobile under which Siemens distributes nanoGSM as part of its enterprise portfolio.
"There is a significant global opportunity for both enterprise and residential in-building wireless solutions," commented Andrew Davison, Director, Information Technology, Scottish Equity Partners. "With its nanoGSM product, ip.access has demonstrated the ability to turn a technological advantage into a commercial success in the shape of the world's smallest GSM basestation."
Abdul Guefor, Investment Director, Intel Capital, stated, "Products that can provide low-cost 3G access in the home using broadband IP connections are both imaginative and innovative; and we believe address a significant untapped need amongst mobile operators."
Jean-Michel Beghin -Private Equity, Rothschild, added, "The product portfolio that ip.access currently offers, and the technology it has in development, is strategically important to mobile network operators. ip.access' proposition enables MNOs to fully leverage their most valuable asset - licensed spectrum - to compete effectively with vendors offering unlicensed WiFi devices and solutions."
Tony Milbourn, TTP Communications Managing Director and ip.access Chairman, said, "Demand for fixed-mobile convergence is growing. ip.access' vision, tenacity and technical and commercial expertise has brought the Company to an impressive position in delivering commercial in-building wireless solutions based on low-cost cellular technology. Now, with this additional funding, we are in a strong position to do the same for residential markets."
Stephen Mallinson, ip.access' CEO, added: "We are delighted to welcome SEP, Intel Capital and Rothschild as investors. Their investment will enable us to accelerate the development of our 3G Access Point, with which operators will be able to cover homes and small businesses and provide converged fixed-mobile services at prices competitive with fixed-line services. It will also help us expand our GSM market, addressing new opportunities, such as those presented by the forthcoming auction of 1800MHz spectrum in the UK."
With an overall strategy to enable innovation, Intel Capital seeks out and invests in promising technology companies worldwide. We focus on both established and new technologies that help to develop industry standard solutions, drive global Internet growth, facilitate new usage models, and advance the computing and communications platforms.
As part of Intel Corporation, Intel Capital calls on some of its best and brightest to evaluate prospective investments, offer business and technology guidance to our portfolio companies, and provide unrivalled access to the latest developments in the industry. We are among the largest venture capital entities in the world with offices in established and emerging markets around the world.
Since 1991, Intel Capital has invested more than U.S. $4 billion in approximately 1,000 companies in more than 30 countries. In that time, about 160 portfolio companies have been acquired by other companies and another 150 have gone public on various exchanges around the world.
In 2005 alone, Intel Capital invested about U.S. $265 million in about 140 deals including 78 new deals. Approximately 60 percent of its dollar investments were made outside the United States (up from about 40 percent in 2004). 10 of Intel Capital's portfolio companies went public via IPO and a total of 14 were acquired.
The Intel Capital investment portfolio includes technology and related companies worldwide and is valued at approximately US$1.1 billion, as of January 16, 2006. Intel Capital does not disclose specific financial results from its strategic investments, but the program has contributed billions in cash to Intel in its 10-year history.
The Rothschild Group has been at the centre of the world's financial markets for over 200 years.
Its Paris-based Venture Capital team manages funds backed by leading European institutional investors. The team invests in first-class international projects led by exceptional entrepreneurs, in the Telecom, Semiconductor/EDA, Software and MedTech sectors. It invests between $1 million and $10 million to support companies through all phases of their growth.
The team provides insights and expertise through its entrepreneurial and operational background and its access to the worldwide Rothschild network.
Scottish Equity Partners (SEP; www.sep.co.uk) is one of the largest independent private equity groups in the UK, and is currently investing from a venture capital fund in excess of £100 million, which is backed by leading UK and European institutional investors.
Typically, SEP invests between £500,000 and £5 million in early stage and growing companies, principally in the information technology, healthcare & life sciences and energy related technology sectors.
With offices in Glasgow and London, SEP is one of the most active venture capital investors in the UK and has a strong investment track record, identifying companies with high potential at an early stage and working with them to realise that potential as they face the challenges of building a successful business.
Recent high profile successes include Wolfson Microelectronics, which achieved a valuation of £250 million when it floated, and bluetooth specialist CSR, which is now worth approximately £1.4 billion.
Based in Cambridge, UK, TTP Communications plc (LSE: TTC) is a holding company that controls three organisations involved in different areas of mobile communications technology:
TTPCom Limited (www.ttpcom.com), its primary operating subsidiary, develops intellectual property used in the design and manufacture of wireless communication terminals and its licensees include leading semiconductor and terminal manufacturers worldwide.
ip.access -designs and manufactures GSM and GPRS infrastructure solutions that integrate with IP-based networks to provide cost-effective mobile radio coverage within buildings (http://www.ipaccess.com/).
7 layers UK. - a test and certification business for handset manufacturers (www.7layers.com). TTP Communications has 50% share)
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ip.access develops 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G carrier grade small cell radio solutions.
The company has two primary lines of business; commercial communications networks deployed with service providers, and private networks deployed with system integrators for critical infrastructures, security and surveillance.
Headquartered in the United Kingdom, ip.access has deployed more than two million 2G, 3G and 4G small cells, across hundreds of commercial and private networks worldwide.
Samantha Browning / Rachel Nulty
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