Motorola funds Trapeze for mobile Wi-Fi work

Wireless switch maker Trapeze is planning to use a big investment from Motorola Ventures, the investment arm of mobile giant Motorola, to get to grips with fixed/mobile convergence.

“It is a significant amount, compared to a C round of venture funding,” said Bart Tillmans, Trapeze’s European marketing director. “We do talk millions here.”

Motorola has not announced any plans to adopt Trapeze technology, but the Trapeze will be moving further towards telecoms by working on converged fixed/mobile systems, said Tillmans. “We are definitely looking at UMA [unlicensed mobile access, the mobile operators’ convergence technology],” Tillmans said. “We are already working on voice on WLAN.”

Tillmans expects to be including Motorola’s converged handsets in Trapeze-based voice-on-WLAN systems, alongside today’s Spectralink handsets: “Our [VoWLAN] deployments are all with Spectralink so far,” he said. “We have had a technology agreement in place with Spectralink for a long time.”

Motorola would add choice, he said: “Without handsets that there is not much of a market for converged services.” So far, voice on WLAN has been mostly in the health-care market, he said, but would expand to other markets in future.

Within Wi-Fi itself, the two companies complement each other, as Motorola has more investment in mesh: “Motorola doesn’t have a real product in our area.” He believes that mobile operators will win over fixed operators when the two worlds converge, because of their billing relationships with customers, and because they have most to lose: “Mobile operators will be slightly more motivated,” he said, “because Wi-Fi is direct competition for them.”

In order to develop, converged services need three things, said Tillmans: “You need a device capable of both GSM and Wi-Fi, collaboration from service providers that have both cellular service and Wi-Fi hotspots, and you need billing and accounting.”

“Trapeze’s product offering complements Motorola’s existing wide-area cellular and Mesh-enabled technology solutions, and enlarges our ecosystem around this key developing market space,” said Warren Holtsberg, director of Motorola Ventures.

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