Mavenir CEO Pardeep Kohli said his company is working with Cohere Technologies to “turbocharge” the already installed base of radios and help operators get more out of the costs they’ve sunk into all of their spectrum and networks.
“Going forward, growth will slow down a lot as most people are already using wireless service. CTOs and CFOs of operators will have to consider how to ‘get more’ out of their investment. Innovation will be an answer to the problem and it cannot just come from 2-3 established incumbents. Mavenir wants to open up the ecosystem to provide more innovative companies to bring their products to market,” Kohli wrote on LinkedIn, adding: “This will help all of us.”
His comments come as Mavenir and Cohere on Wednesday announced an agreement to collaborate on transiting from proprietary Radio Access Network (RAN) to open RAN solutions for 4G, 5G and Cohere’s new-ish technology called OTFS, which is an alternative to OFDM. OTFS is a candidate for 6G.
Last week, Mavenir announced the availability of its O-RAN Alliance-compliant Radio Access Network Intelligent Controller (RIC), or O-RIC. The Mavenir O-RIC enables the creation of differentiated services through open APIs, and it’s now in deployment with two, unnamed Tier 1 service providers.
Common investor, goals
“The Cohere partnership with Mavenir will allow us to differentiate our offerings with higher performance in terms of spectral efficiency, user performance, energy consumption,” Mavenir Chief Technology & Strategy Officer Bejoy Pankajakshan told Fierce via email. “Cohere’s interaction over a near-real time RIC interface to Mavenir software is possible in an Open RAN architecture as the E2 interface defined in ORAN is used here. The higher performance will apply for all deployments – greenfield or legacy.”
Mavenir, which is based in Richardson, Texas, and Cohere share a common investor in the form of Koch Investments Group. The two companies decided to work together due to similar goals, according to Ronny Haraldsvik, CMO and SVP Business Development at San Jose, California-based Cohere.
Cohere’s admiration for Mavenir came through in a recent interview. Asked if open RAN is really going to come to the fore with 6G, Cohere Marketing Director Art King said Mavenir already has shown it’s compliant with open RAN in 5G.
“People like Mavenir are the ones who are really pushing the leading edge” and getting incumbent operators to see that the old appliance model is too slow for today’s requirements, he said.
That said, Cohere’s deal with Mavenir is not exclusive. Cohere demonstrated xApp/RIC with VMware over a year ago with Vodafone. However, Haraldsvik added that Mavenir is the first to also embrace Cohere’s OTFS technology in addition to its Universal Spectrum Multiplier (USM) for 4G and 5G.
Cohere has come a long way since the days when it was pitching its OTFS in the 3GPP 5G standards process. It didn’t win that round, but it’s generated a good share of interest since, especially this year.
Cohere has several trials underway with network operators but it’s not identifying all of them. A recent investment by Bell Canada will go toward network trials of Cohere’s USM software for open RAN on Bell’s 5G network and to evaluate OTFS for 6G.
That’s not all. Last week, Cohere announced the addition of Amit Mital and Johan Wibergh to its Board of Directors, which already included Verizon alum Dick Lynch.
Mital served as special assistant to the President of the United States and senior director, National Security Council from 2021 to August 2022. He’s also the founder of Kernel Labs and former executive at Microsoft and Symantec. Wibergh is the former CTO/CIO with Vodafone Group who worked at Ericsson for many years.
Time to scale
As referenced earlier, Cohere touts its Orthogonal Time Frequency Space (OTFS) technology as an alternative to OFDM, or Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing. Its leaders also were involved in the development of OFDM, most notably at Flarion Technologies, which was acquired by Qualcomm in 2006.
But to hear the OTFS camp now, OFDM has pretty much run past its prime. They tried to get OTFS considered in the 5G standards, but the industry pushed back. Thus, 5G used basically the same waveform that was used in 4G, Haraldsvik said.
“We can work with existing radios and existing antennas,” with software that works in both an open RAN configuration and existing base stations and can up to double the spectral efficiency in that band, with MU-MIMO applied, he said. “The implication is massive,” because operators are not forced to install new radios or antennas. It can be TDD or FDD.
In the last couple years, “we’ve been focused on scaling our solutions,” with some big trials and working through O-RAN standards bodies, he said.
Cohere’s value proposition certainly sounds intriguing. The company claims its technology can take existing spectrum and almost double its value by increasing the available capacity through software. That has implications for any network out there, whether greenfield or legacy.
Cohere hopes to be giving people even more to talk about at the MWC 2023 trade show n Barcelona later this month.
Cohere Chairman and CEO Ray Dolan will deliver a joint keynote address on Tuesday, February 28, with Jim Taiclet, CEO of aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and former head of American Tower. The topic is “Going Hypersonic – Accelerating Secure Wireless to the Edge.”