Genband buys Israel's Fring Internet-based mobile service

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Genband, a developer of multimedia and cloud communications software, has acquired Fring's Internet-based mobile communications service, which works on all major smartphones. The acquisition of Israel-based Fring's communications service expands Genband's cloud portfolio for the consumer market, the U.S. company said on Thursday. Genband did not disclose financial details but a market source who asked not to be named told Reuters the price was $50 million. Fring's service includes capabilities for mobile group video chat, two-way video chat, voice-only calls and text chat. "Fring is one of the pioneers that helped change the way consumers communicate on-the-go and is perfectly aligned with our strategy to bring service providers rich, simple-to-use, mobile communications solutions," said David Walsh, Genband chief executive. The service reduces roaming costs for subscribers by moving voice and video sessions away from radio access networks and routing them over the Internet. "The reality for service providers moving forward is that their relevance is highly dependent on the quality of experience and choices they can deliver to their subscribers," said Brian Partridge, vice president of Yankee Group Research. "Service providers around the world, and particularly in Europe where roaming charges are extremely high, must evolve their communications services rapidly to ensure that they stay relevant and competitive." (Reporting by Tova Cohen)