No matter what carrier you choose, wireless coverage oftentimes is spotty. But imagine if you could overlay the coverage of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile into one uber-network of sorts? That’s the promise of SignalSet, a 5-person Seattle upstart that’s developed technologies to intelligently route select devices on to wireless networks with the strongest signals.
Founded in October 2008, SignalSet today is announcing that it has raised $6 million from Vanedge Capital, Point B Capital, Globespan Capital Partners and Razorback Capital.
For those who’ve encountered wireless connectivity problems (which is about everyone) the SignalSet idea could fall into the why-didn’t-I-think-of-that camp. I asked CEO Peter van der Gracht — a Canadian who previously ran Ignition Point and Wavemakers — why no one else has attacked the problem before.
“I don’t know why others haven’t done it,” he said. “The customers want it, carriers have embraced it and our prior (patent) search has not shown an alternative.”
The technology works with a combination of radios, a back-end connectivity platform and carrier wholesale agreements. Essentially, it becomes the job of the IT administrator within a company to switch back and forth between various networks in real time, without having to touch the mobile devices in the field.
SignalSet — founded by communications executive Andrew Buffmire — plans to make money by charging customers a monthly fee per radio to enable the carrier switching capability. At this point, the company has network agreements with T-Mobile and Sprint.
There are certainly a number of business cases where it would make sense to be able to switch between wireless networks, and SignalSet is investigating many of those. But to start, the company is focusing on a key market where wireless connectivity is critical: truckers.
Truckers moving loads across the country often encounter gaps in coverage. By utilizing devices that can seamlessly move between GSM and CDMA networks, van der Gracht said that trucking companies can save time and money.
The company said it has landed a partnership with a Fortune 500 corporation that plans to “introduce to the trucking industry a new telematics service featuring SignalSet’s patent-pending Remote Carrier Switching technology.” SignalSet declined to name the company or the other terms of that deal.
Other areas where the technology could be used include remotely managed wireless medical devices and monitors, as well as smart grid solutions.
SignalSet sees a lot of room for expansion because some makers of devices have delayed the roll-out of new products in part because they don’t know which network to target.