The high cost of mobile data — not just for consumers but for mobile operators facing huge traffic on their networks with the rise of smartphones and tablets — has become a big topic in mobile. So it comes as no surprise that startups offering solutions to the issue will be catching the eye of investors. Today, one of these — Halo Networks — picked up £1.6 million ($2.5 million) in a first round funding.
UK-based Halo Networks’ main product at the moment is a bit of technology that it sells to mobile operators, handset makers and app developers to automate the offload of 3G cellular data onto public WiFi networks. That reduces the cost to deliver the content and also improves the experience for data-heavy apps such as videos.
Although just about every 3G smartphone and tablet today already comes enabled with the ability to switch from 3G to WiFi networks, a handover requires the user to be authenticated on those networks, and in the case of many public WiFi networks, often as a paying customer; that can make for a clunky experience.
Halo works directly with WiFi networks, acting as a kind of broker and integrator, to offload that data from the 3G operators to the WiFi operators. The company was only founded this year but says it already counts “leading mobile operators, video distributors and app developers” among its customers.
The investment announced today was led jointly by the Barcelona/Boston VC firm of Nauta Capital and the London/Palo Alto-based DN Capital. The investment from Nauta Capital, which has also invested in private buying/agroup buying clubs Privalia and Groupalia, comes from its recently closed Nauta Tech Invest III fund of €105 million ($143 million). DN Capital has invested in a number of mobile and tech startups including Shazam and Digital Chocolate.
Although the most obvious customer for this kind of offloading service appears to be mobile operators, what’s also interesting about Halo is that it seems to also be going for the content and media segments for customers. The could be helped along by the company’s executive leadership team, which has roots at places like Glam Media and Disney (NYSE: DIS), as well as mobile device management specialists Bitfone (acquired by HP) and Mformation.