For mobile carriers, the explosion of smartphone usage, particularly for bandwidth-heavy apps like video, should be a boost to their business. But in many cases, network architecture and delivery proves to be too costly for them to handle heavy traffic, and they are running out of capacity in some cases.
Now, a startup called Kumu Networks has built technology to improve how the use of wireless spectrum — reducing costs and capacity constraints for carriers that potentially could result in “trillions of dollars” in savings, Kumu says. The startup is today announcing that it has picked up a strategic round of $25 million from several of the mobile operators that are likely to use it when it’s commercially available. The Series C funding is led by Cisco, with participation also from Verizon Ventures, Deutsche Telekom, along with previous investors NEA, Third Point Ventures and Khosla.
Prior to this, Kumu had raised $20.43 million in two previous rounds.
Kumu Networks — co-founded by professors and PhDs from Stanford — has no revenues because it has yet to commercially release its first product, which is projected to available by the end of this year.
But it has built tech that it claims will double the capacity of existing wireless spectrum with something called “Full Duplex technology.” The idea is that this will be used to enhance LTE deployments and as a potential enhancement to existing 5G standards, the company says.
All of the carriers that are investing today are already using the tech in advanced trials, the company tells me, along with others that are not in this round. For example, Deutsche Telekom is using it in its 5G Haus. SK Telecom in Korea, as well as Telecom Italia and Telefonica have all also been working with the company.
It doesn’t sound like Kumu actually needed the funding, but this is more about a strategic connection that will help the company build customer relationships down the line.
“We are honored to have such a broad coalition of investors participating in our Series C funding,” said Kumu Networks CEO David Cutrer in a statement. “The diverse group of investors highlights the broad reach and economic potential of our solution and its massive impact on multiple arenas within the wireless industry.”
Kumu addresses the capacity constraints faced by carriers with technology that doubles spectral efficiency by letting a radio transmit and receive data at the same time and on the same frequency. The company claims that this can work out to “trillions of dollars” in cost savings because it improves the investments already made in spectrum and equipment, while also putting off the need to get more. So it’s no surprise that carriers are describing it as a “breakthrough.”
“Kumu Networks’ Full Duplex technology is a rare technological breakthrough that offers substantial benefit to a multitude of wireless modalities,” said Rachid El Hattachi, SVP Architecture and Blueprints at Deutsche Telekom, in a statement. “Full Duplex offers significant advantages and removes roadblocks from wireless endeavors as diverse as LTE Advanced, general Radio Frequency planning and future standards and protocols. We jumped at a chance to invest in and help foster this important new technology.”
The company says that the Series C funding will be used to develop further its core product lineup.