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Mavenir Systems, a company that helps telecom companies evolve their networks to handle new calling options (like VoIP) and rich-media messaging, has closed a $17.5 million third round of funding. It plans to use the round to grow its market presence and continue developing its software portfolio. Its goal is to make accessing broadband connections easier for cell phone users — in turn, giving operators the chance to push a wider range of applications and services into the market.

This type of service, known as fixed mobile convergence, has been gaining momentum in recent months, helped by the popularity of smartphones and third-party mobile applications. In this environment, companies like Mavenir are benefitting from the trend toward multimedia messaging (the sending of audio and video files over SMS, in particular). Keith Higgins, vice president of marketing at mobile software outsourcing firm Aricent, predicts an explosion in mobile video and audio exchange as new applications and handsets allow for higher-fidelity playback and better resolution.

Mavenir’s ability to raise funds despite the flagging economy is not so surprising, Higgins says, considering the market’s interest in mobile experiences rivaling personal computers. “Some of these trends are inevitable as people gain tools that make it easier to browse the internet from their phones,” Higgins explains. “Just the other day I was talking to someone about the impact of the economic world on mobile data and I said, if I’m broke but have an unlimited data plan, at least I can play with my phone for free.” This mentality should keep funds rolling in for companies like Mavenir that are working to give end users even more mobile options.

Higgins joined Aricent from Mavenir competitor Stoke, developer of a platform allowing telecom networks to interact with each other through WiFi and WiMax. That company had seen slow growth since its founding, but has picked up speed in recent months with the rising use of mobile data services. Higgins says it is just one of several mobile convergence companies in the field that are poised to take off now that they have made it through initial product trials — and because the requisite technology (i.e. smartphones) is starting to gain mainstream traction.

According to its SEC filing, it looks like Richardson, Tex.-based Mavenir hoped to raise $22.5 million in the recent round and had already logged the $17.5 million at the end of October from Alloy Ventures, North Bridge Venture Partners and Austin Ventures. It’s unclear whether the economy played a role in the company settling for the lower amount. It has raised $51 million to date.


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