Parallel Wireless founders strike out on new path

A5G Networks still A 5G mystery, as ex-Parallel Wireless co-founders call canny on new venture.

Two of Parallel Wireless’ founding technologists announced last week that they have left the company to pursue a new start-up.

Rajesh Mishra and Kaitki Agarwal were both co-founders of Parallel Wireless, the ambitious radio access network (RAN) company headed up by entrepreneur and investor Steve Papa. Mishra was President and CTO and Agarwal Chief Product Officer. Their names are on many, perhaps all, of Parallel Wireless’ patents, and there’s no doubt that they were among the chief intellectual powerhouses at the company. 

Now they have left to start up A5G Networks, which Mishra says will look to exploit opportunities created by the growth of Open RAN networks.

“I started reflecting that as Open RAN grows, it will fuel the next level of growth of mobile networks, and so then I asked, what will be the next thing that needs to happen?”

Mishra likens Open RAN’s impact on radio networks as similar to the arrival of the iPhone. Just as there were, of course, radio networks before Open RAN so there were smartphones before the iPhone. But it was the iPhone that unlocked something, and created the scale that enabled the formation of the app business. And he thinks that the ability of operators to separate radio hardware from software – giving operators confidence that their radio units can be useful for the length of their lifetimes, while radio software can be changed – will take scale and growth to the next level. Operators requesting Open RAN in RFPs, the arrival of new silicon, such as Qualcomm’s intended accelerations for RU/DU products, are all signs of a coming inflection, he says. 

Mishra’s thinking is that an abundance of Open RANs will create a need for network orchestration that exploits network level intelligence to create a network that is responsive to customer experience. Here, he gets a little cannier about what he is describing.

“I don’t want to describe it as RAN orchestration because that is too narrow. We are thinking about network orchestration looking towards the RAN. So it will sit on some sort of edge, depending on where the operators are in their growth, but in heavily distributed far edge places and then orchestrate the whole network or a part of the network – and be very real time about it.”

So is it a SON product, or an edge analytics platform, something that sits as an app on the O-RAN RIC element? Again, no specifics. But he does agree that he may “consider exploiting the intelligence that you know you can extract from Open RAN radios and a platform like the RIC, but playing a much bigger role in developing network intelligence than that offered natively by RAN products.”

“The intelligence I would be leveraging – I probably know more than most people on Open RAN. I know the ins and outs of the intelligence I can gather. In terms of thinking “AI-first” those pieces will be there.”

Mishra said as well as him and Agarwal, there is a “team working behind the scenes,” building a prototype. He is also talking to potential customers and raising capital.

But Mishra is sure of one thing. His and Agarwal’s departures from Parallel Wireless is a sign of its success and, for these two, a job done well. He has good friends there, and he is rooting for them.

Eugina Jordan, VP Marketing, Parallel Wireless, told TMN, “Sometimes companies outgrow their founders. Scaling the company from a startup to commercialisation is very hard. That is why we brought [in] an expert in scaling startups, Keith Johnson, who has been running the company for the last two and a half years as a COO and President.”

Jordan added that the company is hiring a Chief Product officer. “As for the CTO position, Keith [Johnson] will be filling it based on what our customers need.”