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FirstNews Briefs for May 24, 2011

Tue, 05/24/2011 - 7:58am

Verizon Wireless is launching its LTE network in a slew of new markets on June 16, including Sacramento, Calif.; Indianapolis, Ind.; State College, Pa.; and Madison, Wis. The company first launched its LTE service last December and plans to cover its entire 3G footprint with the next-generation mobile broadband service in 2013.

• The House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology has scheduled a hearing about spectrum auctions on Wed., June 1, 2011, at 9:30 a.m. in 2123 Rayburn House Office Building.  The title of the hearing is "Promoting Broadband, Jobs and Economic Growth Through Commercial Spectrum Auctions."  A witness list for the hearing has not yet been announced.

Borders is expanding its partnership with eReader maker Kobo with a new touchscreen edition of the device and a profit sharing deal. Under the arrangement with Kobo, Borders will share in the profits of all Kobo content sales on devices sold at all retailers in the United States. Borders says this will allow it to gain traction in the eBook market while minimizing its investment in the space. Kobo eReader Touch Edition is available for pre-order on Borders website for $130 and will hit retail stores in July. Borders also plans to launch a Kobo-branded eBook store and new apps for iOS, Android and BlackBerry.

• Mobile television chipmaker Siano has raised $20 million in new funding to help expand the company's presence in North America. The round was led by Israeli venture capital fund, Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP). JVP has been an investor in Siano since its inception.

SkyCross has landed $11 million in its first tranche of Series E funding, which is expected to be the company's final round of equity financing. SkyCross intends to close the second tranche of the round, up to $15 million, by the end of June. NTT DoCoMo's venture capital arm, DoCoMo Capital, participated in the funding round along with existing investors TL Ventures, Investor Growth Capital, Gabriel Venture Partners, Intel Capital and a group of long-standing individual investors. Skycross will use the funding to develop its LTE antenna products.

Intel Capital announced yesterday it invested $24.5 million in four tech startups, including CrowdStar, a developer of social games for Facebook and mobile platforms. Other companies receiving funding from Intel Capital include iStreamPlanet, a provider of live Web broadcast management and automated video workflow; Music Mastermind, an independent entertainment and technology company; and PerspecSys, a cloud data security provider. With the four new investments, along with recently announced deals in China and India, Intel Capital has surpassed $10 billion in total investments since its inception.

• Mobile payments company Square debuted a new consumer-facing app, Card Case. The app allows customers to use their phones to pay for goods at local businesses participating in the program. The company also came out with an iPad app for businesses, called Register. Square says 500,000 of its credit card readers have shipped since the company began offering the gadgets.

• Mobile search startup Do@ launched at TechCrunch Disrupt in New York City on Monday. Instead of delivering links for each query, the company's search platform returns a series of HTML5-based Web apps from publishers that specialize in the topic of the query. Search results are prioritized based on a user's preference and the preferences of their social networks. The company also announced it had landed $7 million in funding from Draper Fisher Jurvetson and seed investor BRM Group.

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