Google has invested an undisclosed amount in the British femtocell maker Ubiquisys.
Femtocells are mini-base stations that can be installed in homes or offices to boost a user's cellular signal. When in range of the femtocell, the user's handset routes a call to the connected IP network rather than the standard network, thus providing enhanced coverage indoors or underground — where 3G/GSM coverage is traditionally poor — and sometimes lowering call costs.
Ubiquisys recently announced a deal with Netgear to integrate femtocell functionality into some of Netgear's routers.
According to Ubiquisys co-founder Will Franks, the round of investment announced on Friday totals $25m (£12m), but Franks declined to specify how much Google had invested.
"What [Google] want to do is get broadband internet access to all users," said Franks. "They see femtocell technology as a very good way of doing that for mobile phones, so they are investing in companies, like us, who do that." He also pointed out that Google had made a similar investment in the "Wi-Fi community" company FON.
Franks said he could not divulge any details but he did say that "a number of mobile operator groups" were currently testing femtocell technology.