Mobile WiMAX chipmaker Beceem Raises $40M


Now that mobile WiMAX is starting to get some significant backing from interested carriers like Sprint Nextel, investment in mobile WiMAX hardware and chips is following suit. Last week it was Aperto Networks, this week it’s mobile WiMAX chip provider Beceem Communications, which says it’s raised $40 million in a Series D round, led by Teachers’ Private Capital and joined by NEC Corporation.

This latest round brings Santa Clara-based Beceem’s total funding to almost $100 million, and the startup has a long list of high profile investors that also participated in this round, including: Global Catalyst Partners, Intel Capital, Khosla Ventures, KTB Ventures, Mitsui & Co. Technology Investment Group, DoCoMo Capital, Samsung Ventures, Sequoia Capital, and Walden International.

Mobile WiMAX gear and chip companies are raising a lot of money fast as carriers like Sprint are just starting to make decisions about what equipment to buy for their new networks. Aperto, which only started adapting its hardware to include mobile WiMAX last October, has raised $139 million.

Sprint has named big public companies Motorola, Samsung, Intel, and Nokia as infrastructure and device partners, though we’re not sure whose silicon will be involved in which products. So far, Motorola has invested in mobile WiMAX chip company Sequans, Samsung Ventures and Intel Capital invested in Beceem, and Samsung and Intel also have their own mobile WiMAX silicon ambitions, as well.

Infrastructure startups and chip providers who don’t get their hardware in these big carrier deals will feel the pinch to raise even more, to try to ensure they get a part of other significant deals to come.

From the operators, to the chip makers to the gear providers, the entire mobile WiMAX ecosystem is in spending mode right now. Sales of WiMAX equipment are estimated to top $3 billion by 2010, says research firm Instat.

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