Squeezed Cell Networks Lead to Dealmaking

Two startups making hardware for the mobile industry scored investments today: Pulsus, a Korean company that has a chip aimed at making handsets more efficient, has taken $4 million from Qualcomm (s qcom) Ventures, and SpiderCloud, a startup that helps with mobile offload, has gotten $25 million from a group of VCs.

As users, application developers and carriers bump up against the technical constraints around mobile broadband’s popularity, expect more and more hardware investments and dealmaking in the mobile sector. A venture partner involved in the $1.3 billion program to fund startups that will benefit Verizon’s LTE network has even detailed to me what types of companies he and other participants in the program are looking to invest in.

But back to today’s funding. SpiderCloud is building out hardware that allows for cell phone traffic to be kept on a proprietary local network, which the company has dubbed eRAN. So instead of all the mobile traffic that a business might generate in its building and send back to the web over the carrier’s cellular network, all the phone in the office can now communicate via a smaller in-house network that connects to the web using the business’ own web connection — it’s kind of like a femtocell in idea, but not in execution. Today’s infusion, from Opus Capital, Shasta Ventures, Charles River Ventures and Matrix Partners, brings its total to $40 million.

Pulsus makes a mixed signal chip that converts analog signals to digital signals before it amplifies them. That allows a greater ability to modulate those signals for better sound quality but could also be used to increase the power efficiency of the handsets, possibly inĀ  a manner similar to Quantance. It also makes a variety of other audio chips and its CEO has said it hopes to one day “be the Qualcomm of Korea.”

In a related move, today Austin chip startup Black Sand Technologies purchased an intellectual property portfolio from Silicon Labs (s slab), a mixed-signal chipmaker. Black Sand is building a power amplifier that will make some of the components inside mobile handsets cheaper to manufacture and will boost battery life on mobile phones. Black Sand raised $10 million last September.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Jurveston