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Nokia gets serious about WiFi with Unium deal

Nokia is making a big push for its WiFi business vertical with the acquisition of Unium, a startup from Seattle that builds technology for mesh WiFi used to deliver home networking services.

Deal value was not announced, but Swiftsure Capital-backed Unium has reportedly been valued at $62.4 million. Unium’s technology helps to fill dead spots in WiFi systems in homes and mission-critical locations, without running into problems with security. Nokia already has expertise in community WiFi and rural broadband, meaning this deal will help the company provide a better service within the home.

“The home networking market is booming and whole-home WiFi is a key enabler for this,” Federico Guillen, president of Nokia’s Fixed Networks business group, said in a statement. “Today’s WiFi solutions still have serious issues with sticky clients, interference, coverage gaps and capacity issues. With Unium inside, our Nokia WiFi solution will deliver an unmatched user experience.”

The acquisition lines up nicely with other recent deals made by Nokia, which together point to a desire to work more closely with carriers. Nokia not long ago brought onboard Comptel for its data communications software aimed at carriers, while Nakina Systems and Deepfield both added to the security aspect.

Nokia the phone handset brand (now operating as a licensed brand of HMD) has been making headlines lately, having made a surprise comeback to be crowned the third most popular phone brand in the UK. This twist is a nice lift for the brand, however Nokia’s recent acquisitions make for a more compelling business story: there might be a second act ahead also for the business as a whole. The outcome of plans to provide services to carriers is going to be a far less hype-dependent than the success of the newest “banana phone”.

Following on from the Unium deal, we expect Nokia will continue to push ahead to gain ground within these more “sensible” areas, where the company can build more long-term, sustainable success.

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