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Connectivity

Cubic Telecom Raises $46.5M for Virtual Networking System

by Sam Chase
It can be a disconcerting moment when you get off a plane or drive across an international border and realize that your cellphone has stopped working.

Perhaps even worse is getting back from a vacation to find a bill charging you hundreds of dollars for roaming fees that you didn't even know you were racking up.

Humans have become so reliant upon cellphones that they are like extensions of our bodies, and the tools they provide are especially helpful in unfamiliar territory.

Navigation services are indispensable in a foreign country. Most drivers would be literally lost without them. So imagine crossing the Canadian border, and your car's navigation services shut down because your service provider doesn't extend to other countries.

It's a distressing thought.

Fortunately, it's an issue already being tackled as more and more drivers find themselves behind the wheels of connected cars. One major player in this area is Dublin startup Cubic Telecom. The company received a huge boost recently by raising $46.5 million in financing as part of its Series C round. Investors included Audi and Qualcomm, as well as firms like Ireland Strategic Investment Fund and Valid Soluciones Tecnologicas SAU.

Cubic Telecom is now valued at $215 million.

Cubic was founded in 2007 to help solve the aforementioned scenario in which travelers struggled to find adequate cellphone services when abroad. While the company was a pioneer in that market, the types of services it offered were eventually adopted by major cell carriers.

So Cubic pivoted, and it now provides the same type of international solutions for Internet of Things devices, chief among them connected cars, as it once did for cellphones. Cubic CEO Barry Napier says its tech is now in nearly a million cars.

"Our connected intelligence platform has been growing between 23 percent to 25 percent every 55 days this year," Napier told TechCrunch. "Our software has updated over 500,000 cars this year via OTA (Over the Air) and we will hit over 1 million cars this year."

Audi's investment in Cubic follows a pre-existing partnership between the companies that dates back some time.

Last summer, Audi and Cubic launched an international in-car service that allow users to "check email on a laptop, use a favorite music service or stream a movie to a tablet." As a luxury automobile brand, Audi makes perfect sense as an early partner for Cubic's game-changing technology.

"Audi and Cubic Telecom are strong development partners of connected infotainment solutions and intend to connect the models of the Audi brand even better with its environment and the internet in the future," Peter Steiner, head of Audi Electronics Venture, wrote in a statement.

Just like cellphone service providers eventually adapted and caught up to Cubic last decade, OEMs figure to try and compete with their own similar IoT services in the coming years, especially for cars. But by forging a powerful partnership with Audi, Cubic has now established a firm footing in its current niche and will be tough to uproot.

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