Ruckus preps for IPO, secures funding for carrier-grade Wi-Fi development

Ruckus Wireless once again has an initial public offering in its sights, but only after it establishes itself more firmly as a provider of carrier-grade Wi-Fi network products.

Ruckus recently raised $21.7 million in a mezzanine round of funding so it can invest more heavily in its carrier infrastructure business as well as continue building its enterprise wireless LAN business. The latest funding round was led by new investors Meritech Capital Partners and SingTel Innov8 and was joined by previous investors. Ruckus has so far raised $72.7 million since opening its doors in June 2004.

Ruckus also added two new board members: Dick Lynch, former executive vice president for strategic technology initiatives at Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), and Georges Antoun, who most recently served as head of product area IP & broadband networks for Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERIC).

All of this activity should help position Ruckus for a successful IPO down the line. Rumors began circulating in 2010 about a possible IPO, though David Callisch, Ruckus' vice president of corporate marketing, told FierceBroadbandWireless that while the company has long intended to go public, it has never set a specific deadline for an offering.

"We're positioning ourselves as a carrier infrastructure play. So, if we went public a couple of years ago or last year, we would have been positioned as a wireless LAN company like Aruba or Meru. And we don't want to do that," Callisch said. Therefore, Ruckus raised its mezzanine fund round so it can pursue the carrier space well before it announces an IPO.

Callisch emphasized that Ruckus is profitable, though he declined to offer specifics. According to one report, Ruckus has made money for the past six quarters and earned $120 million in its most recent fiscal year.

Ruckus this week announced two 802.11n AC-powered Wi-Fi access points for outdoor use. The  company said its ZoneFlex 7762-AC and ZoneFlex 7762-S-AC access points are easily mounted to street lights, traffic controls and other street fixtures and are well suited to public-access services as well as small cell wireless backhaul and mobile data offload. They are designed for co-location with small cell base stations to minimize expensive site acquisition.

So far, Ruckus' most impressive mobile carrier win has been with KDDI. In a multimillion-dollar deal announced in mid 2011, KDDI said it would deploy Ruckus Wi-Fi access points throughout Japan to enable 3G CDMA Android phone users to automatically access and be authenticated to KDDI Wi-Fi hotspots using credentials embedded within each phone over encrypted connections. KDDI is slated to offer Wi-Fi in 100,000 locations by next month and 120,000 locations by June.

Ruckus is one of a crowd of companies expected to make carrier-grade Wi-Fi product announcements at the Mobile World Congress later this month.

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