$150m funding for wireless firm Consistel

PHOTO: $150m funding for wireless firm Consistel

A local firm that just won the licence to put in the Singapore Sports Hub's wireless communications system has bagged $150 million in fresh funding.

Consistel said it will use the funds, secured from locally-based private equity firm Equis Funds Group, for business expansion. Equis will take a "minority" stake in Consistel.

The Sports Hub system that Consistel will build and host includes Wi-Fi and 3G and 4G mobile technologies, and will allow any device to connect to the Internet or make calls within the premises.

Paid Wi-Fi connections can be established using a username and password issued by Consistel. 3G and 4G connections will be provided via the three local telcos - SingTel, StarHub and M1.

Telcos have the option to lease the backend mobile facilities from Consistel, as the "neutral host".

This "neutral hosting" model is a first in Singapore. The key selling points are that less mobile equipment needs to be installed and building owners deal with a single operator.

Equis believes that the concept will take off in Asia and plans to use Singapore as a showcase.

"Sports Hub is an iconic building and it is important that world-class in-building coverage is provided for both residents and visitors," said Mr Lance Comes, a partner in Equis.

Consistel chief executive Masoud Bassiri said the funding will be used to expand its software development centre in Singapore to support projects in the region, though he declined to elaborate.

Mr Comes said Equis also saw "competitive advantage" in Atrium, the automation software developed and launched by Consistel in 2011 to assist with indoor network planning.

The design and placement of antennae within buildings is laborious, with engineers on site to test every antenna to ensure uniform coverage from floor to floor.

Otherwise, mobile users walking from one part of the building to another would get dropped calls or interrupted Web surfing.

The location of each antenna is decided by engineers on the basis of calculations - a process that can take weeks, even months.

But with Atrium's patent-pending automatic antenna placement feature, planning can be done instantly on the basis of architects' plans, even without a site visit.

The software can work out within seconds the exact number of antennae needed and where they should go to get the desired signal strength for each storey.

The programme uses readily available information such as building floor plans and wall thickness to compute the precise network configuration.

In 2009, Consistel received a $2.5 million grant from the Media Development Authority and the Infocomm Development Authority for the software. Atrium was most recently used to plan the 2G and 3G network requirements at Reflections at Keppel Bay.

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