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$310m: that’s how much UK wireless tech is worth

Posted by admin on 8th April 2013

Two significant bits of news caught my eye last week in the world (and when I say world, I do mean the world – not like the World Series) of wireless technology.

Firstly, Cisco has announced plans to acquire the UK small cell ‘pioneer’ Ubiquisys – although it would be nice to think here in the UK we could one day create our own Cisco, it’s great to see a UK tech company giving (OK, selling, for the princely sum of $310m) a global giant the wherewithal to develop the small cells that will form the basis of future mobile networks.

Another example from last year, one close to our hearts (having represented CSR for 11 years, and Samsung for three years), was CSR’s acquisition by Samsung, for its handset connectivity and location technologies. The value of the deal? $310m. Spooky…

Of course, the UK’s success in small cells technologies runs much deeper: Companies such as Ubiquisys or Cisco building these small cells for network operators get the beating heart of the boxes from chip companies such as Picochip, the Bath, UK based company which was also acquired by a larger US entity: Mindspeed Technologies — by the time it was acquired, Picochip already had an estimated 70% of the femtocell/small cell market.

The FT reporting on the Ubiquisys acquisition put it nicely: “The best European technology companies are globally relevant, and are increasingly being acquired by global companies.”

Peter Marsh writing in 2012 for the FT described UK companies like CSR and Picochip as virtual manufacturers, putting an alternative spin on the idea that UK manufacturing is non-existent today. However you think of them, it’s clear that the global giants do appreciate the UK is developing technologies they want and indeed need to give them a competitive edge.

Let’s not forget the other important piece of news last week: The Weightless standard was formally launched to the world. A standard created here in the good old United Kingdom – driven by more of our home grown technology pioneers, including Neul, and ARM. I’ve checked, Weightless isn’t up for sale….so you can put your $310m away – but with market growth estimates quoting 50 billion machines needing connections, it’s going to be a great opportunity for the companies involved. And hopefully many of the beneficiaries will come out of the UK and the tech giants will need to dig even deeper than $310m.

Photo courtesy of Keith Midson.


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