Boston VCs Beam $13 Million into California Firm Out to Bridge Cellular and WiFi Networks
Two Boston area venture capital firms, Castile Ventures and Battery Ventures, both of Waltham, MA, have invested big in Agito Networks, a mobile technology company based in Sunnyvale, CA, the companies announced today. Castile led the $13 Million series B round, which also includes Japan’s ITX International. Battery led Agito’s $9 million Series A round in 2006.
Agito’s technology makes it easy to roam between public cellular networks and internal WiFi (wireless broadband) networks, for instance when going in or out of an office building. Calling over WiFi normally costs less than using the cellular network; at the same time, the greater bandwidth gives better sound quality. Enterprises can use the Agito technology to give employees “mobile extensions,” meaning that all calls to a worker’s office number will be directly routed to his or her cell cell phone whether the employee is inside the office or out of it.
The equipment automatically detects when a user is inside a building and within reach of the company’s internal wireless network. In that case, the calls will be transmitted over WiFi; otherwise, they will go out over whatever cellular network the customer is using.
“The first time I tested it, I was fascinated by the fact that that the only thing you noticed, when the phone switched from the mobile network to WiFi, just was how the quality of sound got better,” says Carl Stjernfeldt, general partner at Castile Ventures, who will join Agito’s board of directors. “The automatic handoff [between networks] is what makes this special. As a user, you don’t want to have to press buttons to go from one network to the other.”