SpiderCloud's Better Cell Coverage, Coming to an Office Near You?July 27, 2012
Silicon Valley Business Journal
by Diana Samuels
How's the cell phone reception at your desk at work? Do you often have to ask people to call you back on your landline?
This week I stopped by a San Jose company, SpiderCloud Wireless, that says it can fix the problems with cell reception that are common in large office buildings. It sells systems to cell carriers that the carriers can then install inside the offices of large businesses to boost 3G cell reception as well as WiFi coverage, without having to build expensive new cell towers or make major building modifications.
SpiderCloud's technology is being piloted in London and Chief Marketing Officer Ronny Haraldsvik says the company is now ready for the commercial market. Just a few weeks ago, it announced a contract with NEC, a major Japanese supplier of equipment to carriers, to sell SpiderCloud's products to its customers.
That could be a huge deal for SpiderCloud, giving the company access to the huge customer base of NEC, a company with $36 billion in revenue last year. SpiderCloud has also been working for the last couple of years with the major European cell carrier Vodafone. Vodafone is a customer, but has also been helping SpiderCloud test its products. Now, Vodafone is piloting the technology in some large London businesses, though Haraldsvik couldn't disclose which.
The company hasn't yet pursued selling to major U.S. carriers like AT&T or Verizon, Haraldsvik said, but could soon.
"We're now ready for business in the U.S.," he said.
SpiderCloud's system, called "small cell," involves various radio nodes that are placed around a building. The nodes then connect via ethernet to a larger piece of equipment called a "services node," kept somewhere in the building. That services node is connected to the carrier's cell network.
The system costs about as much as installing a traditional WiFi system, Haraldsvik said.
It's similar to the "femtocells" that carriers have been giving to residential customers to help boost coverage in their houses, but Haraldsvik says femtocells can have interference problems that are avoided with SpiderCloud's system.
The company is backed by about $75 million in venture funding, including a $35 million round announced in April that brought the company's valuation to almost $200 million. Its investors include Charles River Ventures, Matrix Partners, Opus Capital and Shasta Ventures.