Verana Networks announced that it has secured $28 million in a Series B venture capital funding round, bringing its total capital raised since its founding to $43 million.
The funding from this latest round will be used to commercialize Verana’s 5G radio access network (RAN) technology for millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum. The company points out that the largest amount of unused spectrum for 5G exists in 24–71 GHz, a part of wireless spectrum that commonly known as the mmWave range.
Verana’s solution is based on a patent-pending network design that supports 3GPP 5G New Radio (5G-NR) specifications and Open RAN Alliance (O-RAN) interfaces. Mobile operators can use its products to offer gigabit 5G to smartphones and 5G-based fixed wireless access (FWA).
The company’s initial focus is on operators in the U.S. and Europe that have access to licensed mmWave spectrum.
Amit Jain, co-founder and chief commercial officers for Verana Networks, told Fierce via email that he can’t discuss specific customer relationships, but the company has been working with major service providers who are “very receptive” of their solution. The plan is for customer trials to start later this year.
“Our solution works well for both large mobile operators who want to add a mmWave capacity layer to their 5G network, and small operators who want to offer fixed wireless or private 5G network services,” Jain said. “We do think that the U.S. is the most promising market for mmWave 5G. The FCC has licensed more spectrum than any other regulator in the world, and there are several operators in the U.S., large and small, that have significant mmWave spectrum holdings.”
Big carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile are aggressively going after the home broadband market with FWA that cable players like Comcast and Charter traditionally serve.
While mid-band spectrum is serving those rollouts, there's a role for mmWave. Verizon’s stockpile of mmWave spectrum runs deep, and T-Mobile uses mmWave as part of its oft-cited 5G spectrum layer cake approach. AT&T also has mmWave licenses and is using the spectrum as part of its 5G rollout.
Signals don’t travel far, but mmWave spectrum offers huge capacity gains. On the plus side for operators, there’s a lot of it – something that usually doesn’t apply to spectrum these days. According to Verana, the spectrum available to wireless service providers at mmWave frequencies is 7.2 times more than what’s available for mobile services in the 600-2600 MHz bands.
On the minus side, building out mmWave spectrum is expensive and typically requires some high-grade gear, so Verana’s promise of reducing the cost of building 5G in mmWave spectrum by up to 10 times should resonate with operators.
As for why mmWave is so appealing for FWA home broadband services, Jain noted that home broadband subscribers consume more than 500 GB per month – 40 to 50 times more than the data consumed by smartphone subscribers, and home broadband usage is growing rapidly. More than 15% of U.S. home broadband subscribers now consume more than 1 TB per month, he said.
“Though mobile operators can offer home broadband services in mid-band spectrum, we believe that they will need to put their mmWave spectrum into play if they want to acquire and retain millions of home broadband subscribers,” he added.
New & existing investors
Verana’s funding round was led by Series A investor DC Investment Partners. In fact, all of Verana’s Series A investors participated in this most recent round, including Spark Capital, BOLD Capital Partners and Aspiro Capital.
New investors include Taiwania Capital and TDK Ventures. In addition to this round, last year, Verana secured $4.5 million in convertible debt financing from strategic investors including Lockheed Martin Ventures.
The two founders both worked at Airvana, which was acquired by CommScope in 2015. Verana Networks CEO and co-founder Vedat Eyuboglu was CTO for the small cells group at CommScope and before that, he was with Motorola’s Internet and Networking Group.
Jain was VP, Product Management at Corning, responsible for Corning’s small cell product line. He joined Corning through its acquisition of SpiderCloud Wireless. Before that, he held several management roles at Airvana and was a staff software engineer at Qualcomm.
Based on Chelmsford, Massachusetts, Verana has grown to more than 70 employees in the United States and India since its founding in April 2020. With its new funding, Verana plans to grow by more than 50% in the next 12 months and expand its R&D, marketing, sales and technical services teams, the company said. Judging by the job postings on its website, the company is well on its way.